Passenger in Prius hit by big rig on freeway suffers from chronic neck and back pain. $7.8 M. San Bernardino County.


Plaintiff beats 998 and gets substantial non-economic damages in verdict when defendant trucker claims plaintiff's driver was at fault.

The Case

  • Case Name: Takemura v. Pacific Tank Lines
  • Court and Case Number: San Bernardino Superior Court / CIVDS1516387
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, December 19, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, November 06, 2015
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Truck vs. Auto, Vehicles – rear-ender
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Gilbert Ochoa
  • Plaintiffs:
    Akiko Takemura, 28, singer-songwriter.
  • Defendants:
    Pacific Tank Lines, Inc.; David Juarez
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $7,837,053.38
  • Net Verdict or Award: $7,758,682.84
  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 99% David Juarez (employee of Pacific Tank Lines); 1% CJ Tsao (Prius driver); 0% Akiko Takemura (Plaintiff).
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses: $543,053.38

    Past lost earnings: $27,000

    Future medical expenses: $932,000

    Future lost earnings: $110,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past pain and suffering: $3,150,000

    Future pain and suffering: $3,075,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 21 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP by Justin K. Strassburg, William R. Gilmore and Adam R. Lugo, Pasadena.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:
  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Wood Smith Henning & Berman by R. Gregory Amundson and Mark L. Armstrong, Newport Beach.

    Wood Smith Henning & Berman by Jason C. Gless, Riverside.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Ramin Rabbani, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Beverly Hills.

    Moris Aynechi, M.D., oral surgery, Beverly Hills.

    Lawrence Miller, M.D., pain management, Beverly Hills.

    Jan Roughan, life care planning, Pasadena.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    William Dillon, M.D.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Jon Landerville, accident reconstruction, Torrance.

    Paul Herbert, truck safety, Quincy.

    Darryl Zengler, economics, Pasadena.

    Lawrence Lievense, medical claims and valuations, Camarillo.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Stein Husher, accident reconstruction, Camarillo.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was the front passenger in a Prius on the way to Las Vegas. The Prius ran out of gas. As the driver tried to get off the freeway the Prius was hit from behind by a big-rig gas-tanker truck.

    Plaintiff had significant injuries including several broken vertebrae in her neck and back and she spent almost two months in the hospital.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff's injuries were caused entirely by the negligence of the defendant driver; that the injuries obtained from the incident continue to cause plaintiff pain and suffering. That the crash caused plaintiff to lose her career as a talented singer-songwriter.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant Pacific Tank Lines refused to take responsibility and blamed the entire crash on the Prius driver CJ Tsao for running out of gas and not pulling off the road safely. Defendants also blamed plaintiff for making a last minute decision to go to Las Vegas in the middle of the night after she had been drinking at a bowling alley and a bar. The trucking company’s three defense lawyers claimed she made an amazing recovery. They showed the jury her Instagram posts at a Zumba class and deep sea fishing, in an attempt to prove she had fully recovered.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    C1-2 fracture and occipital condyle fracture; scalp hematoma; injuries to her alar ligament and transfer ligament at C1-2; pneumothorax; multiple rib fractures; pulmonary contusion; Left L-2 transfer process fracture; a comminuted sacral fracture; right and left superior and inferior pubic rami fractures; annular tear at L5-S1; a disc herniation at L5-S1; T-3 compression fracture; dental fractures.

    Plaintiff lives with chronic neck and back pain.

    Plaintiff will need several future surgeries. She will need a fusion from occiput to C2. She will need a lumbar microdiscectomy at L5-S1 and if that does not help her, then a lumbar fusion at L5-S1.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $2,499,999.99 on April 21, 2016.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $1,450,000 on October 13, 2017.