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.
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
Timeline of Events
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
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
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.
“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."
“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..."
“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."
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."
“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
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: