California State Jury Awards $ 36.1 Million, Prior To Reduction For Mother’s Negligence, In Action Against School Bus Company After Child Struck By Car While Crossing Mid-Block To Reach Bus
On Oct. 3, 2012, six-year-old I.E.S. was on her way to Bonnie Oehl Elementary School in Highland. She tried to cross 9th Street mid-block to get to her bus stop on the other side and was struck by a Subaru Impreza. She suffered multiple injuries, including a traumatic brain injury and fractures to her neck, arm, leg and pelvis. As a result, she requires 24-hours a day, 7-days a week licensed vocational nursing care for the rest of her life.
On Aug. 8, 2013, I.E.S., her mother Carina Sanchez, and her father Daniel Sanchez filed an action in the California Superior Court, San Bernardino County against the County of San Bernardino, the City of Highland, Bonnie Oehl Elementary School, San Bernardino City Unified School District, Shanita Cottia Mason, Lillian Thanh Vo, Nguyen Tran, and Does 1 through 100, inclusive. Durham School Services was added as a defendant on Sept. 11, 2013 with the filing of the first amended complaint. Plaintiffs claimed that the bus service, Durham, and the school knew or should have known that it was a common practice for parents and students to cross the intersection mid-block. They claimed that they could have taken steps to avoid the tragedy had the bus driver warned the parents and students against mid-block crossings. The District argued that the bus drivers failed to report the transgressions so that it could not follow its procedures to warn and punish students.
The County of San Bernardino was dismissed on March 17, 2014. The City of Highland was dismissed on July 8, 2014. Bonnie Oehl Elementary School was removed as a defendant on Oct. 25, 2013. Judgment was entered in favor of San Bernardino City Unified School District on Jan. 29, 2016.
The action proceeded to a jury trial against Durham before Judge Gilbert Ochoa. At trial, Carina Sanchez accepted a portion of the responsibility for the accident. After a five- week trial, the jury deliberated for two days. The jury returned a verdict finding Durham 50 percent at fault, bus driver Shanita Mason 30 percent at fault, and Carina Sanchez 20 percent at fault. The jury awarded $ 36,143,291, with the money to be put into a court approved trust fund to cover the cost of I.E.S.’s medical care.
Plaintiffs were represented by Geoffrey Wells, Ivan Puchalt, and Christian Nickerson of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP and Andy Basseri of Law Offices of Andy Basseri.
Lexis Advance Subscribers may view the summary here: I.E.S., a minor, by and through her guardian ad litem, Carina Sanchez; Carina Sanchez; and Daniel Sanchez v. County of San Bernardino, City of Highland, San Bernardino City Unified School District, Bonnie Oehl Elementary School, Durham School Services, Shanita Cottia Mason, Lillian Thanh Vo, Nguyen Tran, and Does 1 through 100, inclusive; 2017 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 12074
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