Dwight Phillip McElyea v. FedEx Freight West, Inc.

Richard Jacobson successfully obtains a defense verdict for FedEx Freight West, Inc. in a rear-end motor vehicle collision.

This action stemmed from a motor vehicle accident which occurred on November 11, 2005, at approximately 6:00 a.m. on northbound Interstate 5, less than a mile north of Hammer Lane in Stockton, California.  Plaintiff Stan McElyea was driving a 1991 Chevrolet Venture van conversion and was hit from behind by a FedEx Freight West, Inc. two-axle tractor with double trailers driven by defendant Demetrius Jacobs.  Plaintiff’s vehicle went over the right shoulder and down a sloped embankment where it collided head-on with a tree.

Just prior to the accident, plaintiff’s heater core failed in his van causing his vision to be obstructed.  Plaintiff was attempting to get over to the right shoulder when the accident occurred.  Plaintiff contended that he was traveling in the far right hand lane from the time he entered the freeway until the time of the incident and that he was in front of the FedEx tractor/trailer.  Defendant Jacobs contended that he was in the right hand lane from the time he entered the highway until the time of the incident.  Jacobs further contended that plaintiff was not traveling in front of him but rather moved into his lane abruptly after his emergency situation developed.  Defendant Jacobs locked the brakes on his tractor/trailer but was unable to stop prior to colliding with the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle.

Of note is that Defendants took a writ with the Third District Court of Appeal during trial.  The trial court ordered that defendants’ IME doctor’s personal financial records be provided to plaintiff’s counsel for purposes of impeachment during trial.  The appellate court stayed the trial court’s order.

Plaintiff sustained a compression fracture of the lumbar spine at T12/L1 in the collision which was treated conservatively.   In July 2007, he underwent a two-level lumbar fusion surgery at L4-S1 which he claimed was related to the accident.  Plaintiff argued for $497,000 in past non-economic damages and $300,000 in future non-economic damages.  Prior to trial Defendants offered $410,000.  Plaintiffs highest demand was $899,000.  Defendants obtained a defense verdict.