Maginnis Howard attorneys T. Shawn Howard and Karl S. Gwaltney recently settled a case for the family of a 14-year-old who was killed while crossing the street to board her school bus. The over $1.3 million settlement came after 7 years of litigation.
The Plaintiff initially filed the case in 2013, but there was no offer from the state until October 2020. The state wrongfully blamed the collision on the child and her family, drawing out the process of justice. The “jurisdictional limit” for the wrongful death claim against the State was $1 million. The remainder of the $1.3 million settlement were for the negligent infliction of emotional distress of the child’s family who witnessed the event.
The family alleged that the bus driver failed to activate her red lights at a bus stop. Oncoming traffic had no indication to stop, and struck the child as she walked to the bus. Shawn deposed two witnesses who testified that the driver failed to activate her lights or pull out her stop arm. As a result, the oncoming driver had no notice to expect children crossing the street. Karl successfully deposed a County employee who confirmed black box data from the bus did not support the State’s contentions.
Evidence also showed that the bus stop was dangerous, as it required the child to cross a busy, dark highway when, after the dangerous bus stop, the bus was going to go up the highway .21 miles, turn around, and would then be passing the Plaintiffs’ house. Investigators found an additional stop on the Plaintiff’s side of the road could have prevented the need to cross the highway.