(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)
Defendant driver, Bobbi Jones, had driven this trip 17 of the 19 years that it had taken place, and prior to this year she had never had a problem. This year, however, despite all the problems that defendant driver caused, she still believed her driving was up to par. In her deposition taken on May 15, 2007, she testified:
“Q. Now, in the other 16 years you drove, do you recall making any driver error?
Q. MR. COLLINS: Do you recall leaving the lights on and letting the battery run dead?
Q. Do you recall damaging the bus?
Q. Do you recall – – in the other 16 years you drove do you recall hitting a pole?
Q. Do you recall hitting anything?
A. No, sir.
Q. Do you recall causing the bus to – – the group to run late as a result of anything you did in the other 16 years?
A. No, sir.
Q. But you did on the 17th year?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you think that based on that you were not fully up to par on this 17th year?
THE WITNESS: I was up to par.
Q. MR. COLLINS: Okay. How do you explain, though, that on the 17th year you had those problems that you never had in the first 16 years?
A. I have no idea, sir.”
(Depo. Bobbi Jones, pp. 47:3-48:9)
Bobbi Jones further testified:
“Q. Okay. Now, a car pulled in front of you, right?
A. More like cut me off.
Q. Okay. And what did you do in response to that?
A. Well, when I noticed it happening, I tapped my brakes.
Q. Okay. That’s your memory, that you tapped your brakes?
Q. Because you have been trained not to apply – – you’ve been trained not to slam your brakes on?
A. Been trained that way, yeah.
Q. And tell me why you have been trained not to slam on your brakes?
A. Because if you slam your brakes, everybody is going to go forward.
Q. Right. And if anyone is standing up they could fall and be injured?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Plus, you may have problems with the cars behind you?
A. Yes. Chain reaction type thing, yes.”
(Depo. of bobi jones, pg.21:3-23)
“Q. Okay. If you had slammed on your brakes, that would have been a mistake?
Q. That would have been a driver error?
Q. That would have been dangerous?
Although Ms. Jones testified that she was “cut off” by another car, she denies slamming on her brakes. Further, Ms. Jones concedes it is wrong and dangerous for a bus driver to slam on the brakes.
Almost every other witness has testified that Ms. Jones did slam on the brakes. Those additional witness statements are available to the defense.
VIII. SETTLEMENT OFFER
This is not a case in which defendants should have used reasonable care. Here, defendants are held to a much higher standard. Defendants should have used the “utmost care.”
Both the bus company and JONES failed to use the utmost care when carrying its passengers. The bus company is liable and responsible for sending JONES to drive in her compromised health condition. The defendant bus company is also vicariously liable for JONES’ poor driving and unnecessarily slamming on the brakes. Plaintiff was catastrophically injured as a result.
Plaintiff NANCY KLEIN remains catastrophically disabled and still suffers daily with shortness of breath. She is unable to do the required tasks on the farm she used to do before the incident on the bus. She is still receiving significant medical treatment for her injuries, and she still requires daily medications.
As itemized above, plaintiff’s provable special damages are $737,784. Plaintiff hereby offers to settle her case for $1,875,000, or for defendant bus company’s policy limits of coverage, whichever is less. In exchange, plaintiff will provide defendants with a full release and plaintiff will extinguish all liens.
Trial is scheduled for August 18, 2007.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.