Suit Filed Over Boy’s Fatal Fall from School Bus

The family of a 6 year-old special needs boy who died after he jumped from a moving bus, filed an $80 million lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of school officials as well as the contractor hired to transport him.

The boy’s mother filed the lawsuit this month accusing the school system and the bus personnel of failing to ensure the safety of her emotionally disturbed son who had a history of impulsive behavior.

That behavior, the lawsuit states, included attempting to jump out of school buses, which he had tried to do just one week prior to his fatal fall on December 8, 2010.

The lawsuit also alleges that the boy’s Individual Educational Plan, which required him to wear a safety vest while on the bus, was not being implemented.

On the day he jumped, none of the three adults (the bus driver and two aides) on the bus tried to stop him, the lawsuit says. The events leading to his fall were captured by video camera on the school bus.

The boy died two days later from head injuries he sustained.

It is so unfortunate that the very system that was designed to nurture and protect him, ultimately led to his death.

The school bus was hired by the city school system to transport the boy to and from his home to the special education school he attended.

The school is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The driver and two aides who work for the transportation company, who were on the bus when the victim jumped, were also named as defendants.

The lawsuit cites eight counts at $10 million each, including negligence, negligent hiring, wrongful death, fraud and negligent representation of the school system’s safety policies and procedures.

The lawsuit outlines incident reports dating back to May 2010, which showed the victim’s behavioral problems on the bus. One example, the boy stood at the back of the bus for the entire ride one day in October 2010. And just one week prior to this tragic accident, the victim unsuccessfully attempted to jump out the back door of the moving bus. Especially due to this very recent potential mishap, the two aides on the bus should have had their eyes glued to his every move, knowing what his impulsive behavior can achieve. At least one of the aides should have been seated next to him while riding the bus.

The boy had similar problems at school, the suit said, according to records in which school officials noted that, “he had no impulse control” and had “run out of the school…. He runs into the street and was once mildly hit by a car.”

The lawsuit says that even after the earlier events that transpired, the system did not perform any of the follow-up safety procedures outlined in its transportation manuals for parents and bus employees. The school responded by medicating the boy and revoking his privileges to quell his aggression, the lawsuit states.

According to the suit, the day the victim jumped from the bus, he had first attempted to open the front door of the bus. The bus driver “swatted him” with his hat, while continuing to drive. The victim “turned around and walked right past the aides who simply watched him pass by, open the emergency exit door at the rear of the bus and fall from a height of approximately four feet into oncoming traffic,” the lawsuit says. “During this time, the driver continued operating the bus at about 30 miles per hour.”

City officials told reporters shortly after the incident, that the company’s bus driver had broken protocol by not stopping the bus immediately when the boy got up from his seat, and that the bus drivers’ license had been revoked. School officials also said that the two aides’ certification had been suspended, pending an investigation.

This was a tragic, senseless accident that could have easily been prevented. Besides the fact that the bus driver was transporting innocent children to and from school with an invalid driver’s license, the driver did not follow safety procedures when the boy was out of his seat. When the victim attempted to open the front door of the bus, the driver should have stopped the bus as opposed to “swatting the boy with his hat.” Even though the two aides had suspended certification and never should have been responsible for the safety of the children, since they were present on the bus on this day, they should have had the sense to protect the impulsive child by sitting beside him during the bus ride for his safety and the safety of others.

One life was lost due to the negligence of the defendants. Would you feel confident placing your child on that bus in the care of the two aides with suspended certification or the bus driver with a revoked driver’s license? How could a school be so careless when hiring a transportation company for children?

Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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