Verdict Story: $2.1 Million Awarded after $80,000 Pretrial Offer

Trial Guides is thrilled to announce a recent $2.1 million verdict on behalf of Sean Dormer and Timothy Garvey of the Denver law firm Dormer Harpring, LLC. He and his trial team drew from several Trial Guides titles to reach this remarkable verdict. 

Trial Guides Titles In Action

“What Trial Guides titles helped you secure this verdict?”

We have a lot of Trial Guides titles. Foundational titles that undoubtedly played a role in our trial result include Rick Friedman's Polarizing the Case, Nick Rowley's Trial by Human, Courtney Rowley's Trial by Woman, Keith Mitnik's Don't Eat the Bruises, Jesse Wilson's Witness Preparation (we also had Jesse work with our client to prepare him for trial), and David Ball's Damages and Damages Evolving. 

Additionally, I incorporated tidbits I learned from Redefining Opening Statement & Jury Selection: The Story before the Story, a CLE video with Brian Kim and Jesse Wilson (which strongly influenced my opening), and All the King’s Horses: Storytelling in Traumatic Brain Injury Cases, a CLE video presentation from Deborah Chang (which I leaned on in closing).  

Case Details

Venue: Denver County District Court 
Case Caption: Wayne Joseph Tibbits v. DJ Contracting LLC and David S. Jasion
Case No.: Denver District Court, 2022cv31347
Judge: Jon J. Olafson
Trial Dates: May 6-10, 2024
Plaintiff's Counsel: Timothy Garvey and Sean Dormer of Dormer Harpring, LLC

Claim Summary

The case arose out of a multi-vehicle rear-end crash on June 3, 2019. All involved vehicles were southbound on I-25, near Johnstown, CO when traffic ahead slowed for construction. From front to back, the involved vehicles were a Toyota Tacoma, a Chevy Malibu, the plaintiff's Chevy Astro Van, the designated non-party's Chevy Suburban, and the defendant's Chevy Silverado. 

The plaintiff alleged at trial that the Tacoma and Malibu came to a full stop, and then the plaintiff stopped behind them. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was tailgating the designated non-party's Suburban, and that the Suburban driver and plaintiff split their lane of travel to give the defendant as much space as possible to stop before the defendant rear-ended them both, pushing them into the Malibu, which was itself pushed into the Tacoma. 

The defendant alleged at trial that the plaintiff began the collision by rear-ending the Malibu, causing the Suburban and then the defendant's Silverado to collide into the group in succession. The defendant denied negligence and asserted affirmative defenses of comparative negligence and non-party at fault.

Injuries Alleged, Liability Disputed

The plaintiff alleged small disc bulges superimposed on pre-existing congenital spinal stenosis. They also alleged that these conditions would require surgical care into the future, with possibilities ranging from a laminectomy to fusions, in addition to various conservative care options. There was a gap in care from July of 2020 through March of 2022.

The defendant's expert agreed that care up through July 2020 was related, but opined that all care after the gap was related only to pre-existing conditions. The plaintiff claimed past medical expenses of $39,208.77 and a range of future medical expenses from $819,471 to $1,276,192. The defendant argued for approximately $30,000 for medical expenses, $7,500 for noneconomic damages, and $0 for physical impairment.

Final Demand before Trial

Tim, Sean, and their team made a demand for the full policy limits ($1,000,000), which they renewed after the second day of trial. This increased to $1,500,000 after the third day of trial. The offer to settle was withdrawn after the fourth day of trial.

The defendant's offer before trial was $80,000; in response to the plaintiff’s in-trial demands, the defense simply renewed that offer. 

Plaintiff's Expert Witnesses

  • Kyle Heer, P.E., of Compass Consulting Engineers: Accident Reconstruction (Westminster, CO)
  • Pamela Knight, M.D., of Castle Rock SurgiCenter: Treating Interventional Pain Physiatrist (Greenwood Vlg., CO)
  • Michael Miller, M.D., Treating Emergency Medicine Physician (Lakewood, CO)
  • Frederic Sonstein, M.D., of Brain and Spine Injury Specialists, Retained Neurosurgeon/Independent Medical Examiner (Englewood, CO)
  • Robert Bess, M.D. of Colorado Orthopedic and Spine Surgery, Treating Spine Surgeon (Greenwood Vlg., CO)
  • Sanjay Bhasker, CPA, of AccuMed Healthcare Research, Medical Services Pricing (Greenwood Village, CO)


The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff on claim of negligence. The defendant was deemed 75 percent at fault, with 15 percent of fault designated to an unnamed party and 10 percent to the plaintiff. Damages were assessed as follows:

Economic: $865,000

Impairment/disfigurement: $386,000

Noneconomic: $910,000

After interest and costs, the plaintiff’s team expects the judgment to be close to $2.5 million.