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There is a feeling that justice has been done for the Allison Family.

Sara was his everything, his caretaker, the bread winner for the family, his whole reason for being...We are proud of the result of this case. It’s a relief that the case is officially over and the defendant cannot appeal again.”

– Attorney Tom D’Amore

Celebration Ends in Tragedy

On June 5, 2016, Matthew and Sara Allison, a young married couple, set out on a celebratory trip to Oregon, marking a milestone in Matthew's recovery from a rare form of cancer. Their journey takes a devastating turn when they become victims of a road rage incident caused by commercial drivers.

The crash occurred when commercial drivers engaged in reckless and aggressive behavior (road rage), leading to a head-on collision that tragically took Sara's life and left Matthew with life-altering injuries. This case would prove to be a pivotal moment for both the Allison family and the trucking industry as a whole.

“It was our way to celebrate having got through that tough time together. It was a much-needed break.”

– Matthew Allison

Attorney Tom D’Amore and co-cousel Steve Brady represented Matthew Allison and the estate of Sara Allison in the lawsuit against the trucking companies and drivers responsible for the crash. Their unwavering commitment to justice and their clients’ well-being was evident throughout the entire legal process

After a long and grueling trial, the jury delivered a record-breaking verdict in May 2019, awarding a total of $26.5 million to the plaintiffs. The defendants sought to challenge the verdict by filing a motion for a new trial or a reduction in the amount of the verdict.

However, the court denied defendants’ request, upholding the landmark jury verdict. D’Amore and his team firmly asserted their clients’ rights, making it clear that justice demanded the defendants “pay the verdict.”

Timeline of Events

Matthew and Sara Allison embark on a trip through Oregon to celebrate Matthew's improving health and recovery from cancer.
They attend a concert in Portland and explore Mount Hood National Forest.
The couple visits Crater Lake before heading back to their home in Boise, Idaho.
While driving on Highway 20 east of Burns, Oregon, their Ford Focus is involved in a devastating head-on collision.
Tragically, Sarah died at the scene. Matt suffered catastrophic internal injuries and full body trauma.

ROAD RAGE A KEY FACTOR IN CRASH

The tragic events that unfolded on that fateful day served as a wake-up call for the trucking industry. D'Amore aimed not only to secure a just verdict but also to raise awareness of the dangers posed by road rage. His efforts resonated with industry publications, amplifying the message that the recklessness displayed by these commercial drivers posed a severe threat to public safety.

“Professional or commercially licensed drivers are supposed to be trained to avoid and never engage in road rage, and yet the four drivers in this case traveled in a pack for over 90 miles engaging in racing, speeding, illegal passing, flipping each other off, blaring air horns, brake checking, as well as trapping passing semi-trucks in the oncoming lane by speeding up and slowing down to prevent passes.”

– Attorney Tom D’Amore

How Road Rage devolved into tragedy

Commercial drivers James Decou, Peter Barnes, and Corey Frew, along with motorhome driver Jonathan Hogaboom, engage in a prolonged bout of road rage.

The driver’s negligent actions include speeding, illegal passing, blaring air horns, brake checking, and trapping passing semi-trucks in the oncoming lane.

Decou attempts to pass Hogaboom's motorhome, but Hogaboom prevents him from returning to the westbound lane.

Near milepost 156, Sara Allison, realizing the danger, veers her car to the right and off the road, but Decou turns his semi-truck into Sara’s car and they collide head-on.

THE TRIAL - opening statement

The trial commenced on April 30, 2019 at the United States Federal District Courthouse in Pendleton, Oregon. In his opening statement  Attorney Tom D’Amore introduces Matthew and Sara Allison as a young couple in love who moved to Idaho to start a new life together. He highlights their shared passion for visiting national parks and describes their planned trip to Oregon, including attending a concert in Portland and visiting Crater Lake. Tom emphasizes that this trip was a celebration of Matthew's improving health after battling cancer. 

D’Amore asserts that the case revolves around the fundamental rules of safety and the joint participation of four drivers in causing harm through road rage and aggressive driving. He explains the significance of professional drivers following these rules, as their actions can lead to catastrophic injuries or death due to the large and heavy vehicles they operate. He presents a timeline of the events leading up to the crash, highlighting the altercations and dangerous behavior of the commercial drivers involved.

“The evidence will show that these four drivers had been reckless, outrageous, and indifferent to everyone else on the road that day. They're in their 50,000-pound killing machines while the rest of the drivers on the road are in their small cars. They knew they were well protected.”

– Attorney Tom D’Amore, from his Opening Statement at Trial

“Matt is lost and lonely without Sara by his side. He is unsure of what to do without her. Money can't bring anyone back. There's nothing that can fix Sara's death. Matt's life has been forever changed in the worst possible way. But money can help make up for it.”

– Attorney Tom D’Amore, from his Opening Statement at Trial

Throughout his opening statement D’Amore emphasizes the profound impact of Sara's death on Matthew's life, discusses his physical injuries, emotional trauma, and the loss of his wife and caregiver. D’Amore describes Matthew as a resilient individual, recounting his background and military service, his deep connection with Sara, and their dreams of a shared future. D’Amore emphasizes that money cannot bring Sara back or fix the irreversible consequences of the crash but argues that financial compensation can help make up for the losses suffered and send a message to the reckless drivers and all drivers on Oregon's roads.

matthew allison’s trial testimony

Matthew Allison's testimony highlighted the life-altering impact of a tragic crash and the loss of his wife. He described the emotional and physical turmoil, nightmares, and panic attacks he experienced. Despite the ongoing pain and reminders, he expressed his determination to rebuild his life and find a way forward.

Do you feel like losing Sara lost your entire life?

“Absolutely. I lost everything that night.

I lost my spouse, I lost my companion, I lost my health in a sense. I lost my career. I fell hard."

Do you remember anything from that night?

“I remember hearing her scream my name

I have an image burned in my brain -- it will be there until the day I die -- of standing on the driver's side of that car and looking down at her and seeing the blood running out of her nose..."

How did the crash impact your physical health?

“I was on some pretty hard-core pain meds...

I woke up, completely naked, wrapped around the base of my toilet, covered in my own vomit... It was my come-to-Jesus moment. I took every last bit that I had in the house and flushed it down the toilet right then and there."

Are there things that just happen in everyday life that remind you?

“Every day.

From the moment I wake up, when I'm at home, roll over and see the empty side next to me. Every time I take my medicine, I hear in the back of my mind Sara nagging me, "Don't forget your medicine." You know, it's -- there's not much that happens throughout my day-to-day life that doesn't bring me back to her or that night."

Are you looking forward to your future?

“Whatever comes my way, I'm ready for it.

I'm at the point now where I've had a lot of time to process everything that's happened not just in the last two years but the last week and a half as we've sat and heard all of this evidence, and I'm at the point now where whatever comes next for me, I feel that I can do it standing on my own two feet."

THE TRIAL - CLOSING STATEMENT

In his closing statement, Tom D'Amore emphasizes the importance of credibility in evaluating the testimony of witnesses, particularly Mr. Hogaboom and the witnesses from Horizon. 

He argues that their strong interest in the outcome of the case may influence their beliefs and version of events. D'Amore points out that Horizon has admitted wrongdoing and lies, suggesting a cover-up. 

He highlights instances of negligent and reckless behavior, such as tailgating and illegal passing, and argues that even a small percentage of contribution to the crash holds Mr. Hogaboom jointly liable. 

D'Amore raises questions about why Hogaboom took a prohibited route, thereby implying it was to continue the road rage with other drivers.

“If low numbers are awarded in this case, then Horizon will have won. if one of their drivers kills somebody tomorrow, What are they going to do? They're going to cover it up because it pays to cover it up.”

– Attorney Tom D’Amore, from his Closing Remarks at Trial

Regarding damages, D'Amore argues for significant noneconomic and economic damages based on the severity of the case, criticizing attempts to decrease the amount. He concludes by urging the jury to consider the evidence and make their decision without external influences, asserting that awarding low damages would enable cover-ups by others in the future.

“Why do people cover up? They cover up because they know they've done wrongdoing. They know that they've caused great harm. Nobody knows a lot of what really happened in this case because we're getting so much conflicting information from these folks.”

– Attorney Tom D’Amore, from his Closing Remarks at Trial

THE JURY VERDICT - $26.5M

The rigorous 9-day trial concluded on May 10, 2019 as both sides made their final remarks. After a brief deliberation, the jury retruned their verdict, awarding $26.5M in total damages, an overwhelming victory for the plaintiffs. Here’s how the damages broken down:

$12.4M $2.4 million in economic damages $10 million in non-economic damages awarded to the estate of Sara Allison.
$7.6M $600,000 in economic damages and $7 million in non-economic damages awarded to Matthew Allison.
$6.5M Punitive damages awarded, with 70% going to the state of Oregon’s Crime Victims Fund.

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