Two-motorcycle rear-ender; defense denies liability. $54K. Alameda County.


A group of motorcyclists was on a "poker run" when one participant's motorcycle rear-ended another.  Liability was disputed.

The Case

  • Case Name: Theis v. Altom
  • Court and Case Number: Alameda Superior Court / RG14741784
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, July 19, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
  • Type of Action: Vehicles - Motorcycle
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Robert Freedman
  • Plaintiffs:
    Michael Theis, 44, floor installer
  • Defendants:
    Richard Altom
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $54,105
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medicals: $18,862

    Future Medicals: $25,233

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past pain and suffering: $5,000

    Future pain and suffering: $5,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day
  • Jury Polls: 12-0

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Richard B. Curtis, Albany.

    Law Office of James Bachan by James B Sutherland, Oakland.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Office of Mark T Lobre by  Brian Har, San Francisco.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Douglas Abeles, M.D., orthopedics, Castro Valley.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Joseph McCoy, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Napa.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    The subject incident occurred on September 28, 2012 at about 3:00 pm at the intersection of Altamont Pass Road and Greenville Road, Alameda County.

    The two parties were participating in a Poker Run, a fundraising event for motorcycling enthusiasts wherein a group of motorcyclists meet, usually at a bar. They travel to four or five different bars, stopping at each one to receive a card in a sealed envelope. At the end of the run, the envelopes are opened to see who has the best/worst hand. Both parties had been to three establishments and were in a group of about twelve riders heading to the next bar.

    They were riding in formation, wherein they were traveling two by two in a line. At the stop sign on Old Altimont Pass Road at Greenville Road, each pair of motorcyclists would come to a stop, proceed through the intersection and wait on the other side until each group passed through before continuing on. Plaintiff had come to a stop at the stop sign and was hit in the rear by defendant's motorcycle.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff was stopped at a stop sign in a group of bikers when he was suddenly hit in the rear by defendant.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That an unknown, third, homemade motorcycle hit defendant in the rear, forcing his bike into plaintiff's bike.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Rotator cuff tear in the left shoulder. Lower back pain.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $32,164.69
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $40,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $100,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $25,000

Additional Notes

Plaintiff had a witness that corroborated his story. Post verdict questioning of the jury revealed they did not believe the defendant's version of the story; they liked and believed plaintiff's doctor; they did not give the defense doctor much credibility, and the subrosa film of plaintiff helping his wheelchair-bound mother did nothing to sway them. Further, they reduced plaintiff's past and future medicals due to plaintiff being told early on he needed a shoulder operation, but chose instead to take painkillers.


This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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