A Major Victory Against a Public Entity

Restoring dignity and independence to an innocent driver

Peoples v. County of Alameda


Joshua Peoples’ car was hit by an Alameda Deputy Sherriff who drove through a red light at a high rate of speed while pursuing a high-risk stop in Oakland.

Upon impact, Joshua’s car spun multiple times and hit a light post. The impact knocked Joshua unconscious and caused a permanent traumatic brain injury. His life was dramatically changed.


We believed the County Deputy Sherriff was at fault. Yet, he and his department denied all responsibility, claiming he followed all laws and policies.

Heinrich Law needed to:

  • Prove that the County of Alameda was clearly liable for the T-bone collision;
  • Prove that our client’s injuries were severe and permanent; and
  • Ensure the county pay fair compensation to our client for his harms and losses.


Winning a personal injury case against a public entity is a daunting undertaking. One individual must fight against an entire governmental entity with deep pockets and virtually unlimited resources. Critical elements in winning this case included:

Building trusting relationships

Our work on the case started with Josh Peoples himself. Many lawyers turned his case down before he contacted Heinrich Law. We found him to be credible, sincere, and a hard worker who was striving to succeed before being severely injured. He did not deserve to have his life destroyed. We believed him and we wanted to help. We knew how to win these types of cases against public entities. This was not our first trip down this road.

Dogged investigation

Marjorie Heinrich investigated the scene of the accident to discover if video tape or witnesses could corroborate Josh’s story. A local merchant told her that one of his customers witnessed the accident. Marjorie found the eyewitness. She testified that the deputy did not slow down – rather, he accelerated into the intersection – did not activate his siren, did not clear the intersection, and was clearly at fault. The impact was so great that the witness initially believed the driver had been killed.

Depositions that changed the story

The deputy who hit our client’s car contradicted his prior written statements in his deposition. After a lengthy cross examination that lasted several hours, he finally admitted he was confused and didn’t know that he was about to cross the subject intersection at a high rate of speed. He admitted he did not clear the intersection and did not see our client’s car until it was too late.

Engaging the right expert witnesses

Heinrich Law hired medical experts to prove that our client’s traumatic brain injury was real – even if his MRI results were technically “normal” – that it was caused by the subject crash, and that it had caused multiple symptoms including debilitating headaches, memory loss and depression. The experts established that our client’s injuries would prevent him from resuming the career he held at the time of the incident, and that returning to the work force would be difficult.

We also engaged an expert in the biomechanics of motor vehicle accidents who helped us to create a digital video simulation demonstrating the impact of the crash and how it was caused. (Please find the video in the ABOUT section of this website on the TECHNOLOGY page.)


Our strategy worked. Through our investigation, strategic cross examination, use of experts and advanced technology, we proved our case.

We shifted the Sheriff’s position from blaming our client for the collision and refusing to settle, to offering a $3 million dollar settlement the week prior to trial.

If you have been harmed by an employee of a public entity, hurt on public property, or have been seriously injured due to the fault of another, please contact us.  The consultation is free to you.