Box truck rear-ends auto at red light at low speed; causation and damages contested $3.29M. Sacramento County.


A 26-foot box truck rolls into car at stop light. Plaintiff later undergoes multiple surgeries for continuing pain and disability.

The Case

  • Case Name: David Yaffee v. Joseph Skeen; KLS Transportation, Inc.; and Does 1 through 30, inclusive
  • Court and Case Number: Sacramento County Superior Court / 34-2016-00204039
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, November 07, 2022
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, November 29, 2016
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Truck vs. Auto, Vehicles – rear-ender
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. James Arguelles
  • Plaintiffs:
    David Yaffee, 36
  • Defendants:
    Joseph Skeen
    KLS Transportation, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,299,455
  • Net Verdict or Award: $4,945,140.88 after cost and interest
  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:



  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 9 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant filed a JNOV and motion for a new trial, both of which were denied.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Demas Law Group, P.C. by John N. Demas and Brad A. Schultz, Sacramento.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Hardy Erich & Brown, by Stephen Robertson and Coell Simmons, Sacramento.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Ronnie Mimran, M.D., neurosurgery.

    Jerome Barakos, M.D., neuroradiology.

    Carol Hyland, life care planning and billing.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    William Hoddick, M.D. neuroradiology.

    Leon Ensalada, M.D., pain management.

    Eldan Eichbaum, M.D., neurosurgery.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Craig Enos, economics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Nancy Michalski, billing.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was stopped at a red light when his Acura was hit from behind by defendant’s 26-foot box truck.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That there was significant impact when his auto was hit by the much heavier truck, despite the low speed impact.

    That defendant was negligent for failing to operate his vehicle safely. That as a result of defendant’s negligence, plaintiff suffered permanent injuries and impairment.  Although plaintiff had prior low-back pain and treatment, this was more than seven years before the collision and he was completely asymptomatic and had no physical limitations during that time. That he was an "egg shell" plaintiff.

    As to damages, plaintiff also argued that because UC Davis balance-billed for his past medical treatment, the past medical bills should be the reasonable and customary number, which plaintiff’s expert determined to be $993,000, and not the amount paid by plaintiff’s health insurer.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant claimed he was stopped six to eight feet behind plaintiff, when several bees entered his truck cab and landed on his leg. As defendant opened the door to swat them out, his foot came off the brake, and the truck rolled forward, hitting plaintiff’s car at less than 5 mph. Defendant driver claimed plaintiff did not report pain at the scene, and no emergency personnel or authorities were called. Plaintiff’s car had minimal visible property damage.

    Defendants admitted liability and contested causation and damages. Defendants argued the collision was very minor and could only cause soft-tissue injuries, and that plaintiff’s need for multiple back surgeries was due to a pre-existing condition. That plaintiff had a lot of prior low-back treatment in his 20s, including frequent complaints of 7/10 pain, a lumbar MRI, referral to pain management, and an ESI referral which was not performed.  

    Defendants also relied on the operative report from plaintiff’s microdiscectomy surgery where the surgeon noted “scar tissue” was present. Based on the note, defendants argued that plaintiff had a long-standing pre-existing herniation that just was not symptomatic.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    That as a result of the collision plaintiff suffered a L5-S1 disc herniation which compressed the right L5 nerve root. A microdiscectomy was performed three months after the crash. Unfortunately, the surgery did not help, and plaintiff continued to have right leg radicular issues. Other than medications and home exercises, plaintiff had conservative treatment for nearly a year, at which time he was referred to pain management. Two and a half years post-crash plaintiff received a spinal cord stimulator. Plaintiff did well with the stimulator for nearly two years, after which time his right leg symptoms returned.

    A new MRI was performed (almost four years post-crash), which revealed a new herniation, and plaintiff had an L5-S1 fusion. This surgery also did not resolve plaintiff’s symptoms, and another fusion was performed at L4-5.  

    The surgeries did not alleviate plaintiff’s right leg symptoms, and several months before trial his pain management doctor attempted to place a dorsal root stimulator.  This procedure was unsuccessful as the leads could not be attached to the nerve root.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $993,083
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $685,993
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $194,515
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $676,595

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000 (Defendants' policy limits.)
  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $1,000,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $225,000