Semi tractor trailer hits plaintiff's vehicle three times in sideswipe collision. $1M. Kern County.


Extent and treatment of back injuries contested at trial.

The Case

  • Case Name: Jonely Alce v. AMRI Transportation, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Bakersfield Superior Court, BCV-17-100332
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, June 04, 2021
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, November 14, 2017
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Tractor Trailers, Vehicles - Truck vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. David Lampe
  • Plaintiffs:
    Jonely Alce
  • Defendants:
    AMRI Transportation Inc
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,094,494.00
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses: $122,794

    Future medical expenses: $235,700

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $368,000

    Future: $368,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours
  • Jury Polls: 10-2

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Bisnar | Chase, LLP by Gavin Long, Newport Beach.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Hosp, Gilbert & Bergsten by Robert Bergsten, Pasadena.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Devin Binder, M.D., neurosurgery, Fountain Valley.

    Jorge Saenz, M.D., pain management.

    Mary Eng, physical therapy.

    Adrian Hernandez, DC.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Dr. Gerald Alexander, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

    Dr. Stephen Rothman, M.D., radiology.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, 22 years old, was traveling as a passenger in a Mazda four-door sedan from Velasco Texas to San Antonio Texas to attend a religious service. As plaintiff’s vehicle was traveling straight on the highway, a semi tractor trailer entered her lane, striking her vehicle three times, sending it off the road onto a grass field.

    Plaintiff developed neck and back pain, received physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain management and ultimately a surgical recommendation to her lumbar spine. Plaintiff did not have the surgery scheduled at the time of trial.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the subject collision caused plaintiff to suffer a 3 mm L4/5 lumbar protrusion that impinged the exiting nerve root and thecal sac, resulting in conservative care, pain management and a surgical recommendation.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the collision was a sideswipe, which does not cause lumbar protrusions. No protrusions were seen on the MRIs per defense experts.

    That plaintiff only suffered strains and sprains which caused six to eight weeks of neck and back pain. That plaintiff had a fall in high school where she had X-rays to her neck and back which were not available to see if she had any spinal problems that pre-dated the subject collision. That plaintiff had also suffered three subsequent injury-causing events which caused the extensive treatment.

    That plaintiff was able to work extensively during the first year and a half after the collision, so she was not injured as badly as she was claiming. Plaintiff’s treatment was provided on a lien basis, which encouraged the providers to provide unnecessary treatment, per defense experts.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    The subject collision caused plaintiff to suffer a 3 mm L4/5 lumbar protrusion that impinged the exiting nerve root and thecal sac resulting in conservative care, pain management and a surgical recommendation. 

    Per defense counsel: Plaintiff’s current symptoms (debilitating low-back pain and radiculopathy) require her to use a wheelchair to get around, as plaintiff was wheelchair-bound at trial.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $122,794
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $235,700

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $205,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $125,000

Additional Notes

All jurors, witnesses and lawyers wore masks throughout the entire trial.

Plaintiff’s counsel requested $1,800,000 in total compensation from the jury.

Plaintiff is also seeking seeking approximately $230,000 in interest and $90,000 in costs.