Langan v. Olness was tried to jury verdict in Sacramento County. The plaintiff was involved in three motor vehicle accidents within one year. Jim represented the adverse driver in the second accident. Plaintiff settled with the adverse driver in the first accident and proceeded to trial against Jim’s client and the adverse driver in the third accident. As a result of all three accidents, plaintiff claimed she was permanently impaired and alleged future economic losses of over $365,000.
In the accident involving Jim’s client, plaintiff claimed that Jim’s client struck a van, which in turn struck plaintiff’s car. During the trial, the driver of the van, who was not named by plaintiff’s attorney as a defendant, testified he came to a complete stop behind plaintiff’s vehicle, was struck from behind, and moved forward impacting plaintiff’s car. However, Jim impeached the van driver by using his deposition where the van driver testified that he did not remember if he had come to a stop before the impact from behind.
During Jim’s cross-examination of the plaintiff, she offered testimony that conflicted with her story. The plaintiff admitted she saw the van approaching prior to the impact. She also admitted the van was traveling between 10 and 30 miles per hour and that she saw it approaching for about 5 seconds. During that time the van never stopped. Ultimately, Jim got the plaintiff to testify that the van did not appear to be impacted from behind and pushed forward into her vehicle. Furthermore, during Jim’s cross-examination, the plaintiff admitted that the van driver’s statement that he came to a complete stop before impact with inconsistent with her recollection of the accident.
After a six-day trial, the jury found Jim’s client was not negligent. The verdict against the driver in the third accident was more than double the plaintiff’s 998 demand to him. Jim’s verdict was below his 998 offer so his client was entitled to recover his costs.