The TriMet public transit agency in Portland, Ore., and a bus manufacturer have agreed to pay a $4 million settlement stemming from a 2010 bus crash that killed two women and hurt three others, according to The Oregonian.
The case was settled Monday right before a trial was set to start on the litigation, but even after the deal was announced lawyers for the plaintiffs charged that TriMet still has serious safety issues. There were five plaintiffs, namely the families of the two women killed and the three who were hurt in the accident.
TriMet will pay half of the $2 million, and it issued a statement about the settlement. The agency maintained that it had made safety improvements, and “accepted responsibility for the negligent driving of the operator.” But TriMet didn’t admit to any wrongdoing in the fatal April 24, 2010, bus accident.
Bus driver Sandi Day, making an illegal turn, hit a group of friends crossing a street as they exited a comedy club in Old Town in Portland, according to The Oregonian.
Danielle Sale, 22, of Vancouver and Jenee Hammel, 26, of Gresham were both killed. Jenee’s brother Ryan Hammel, 28, and his wife Jamie, 23, were injured, as was Robert Kittings.
The families of the deceased and the three injured originally filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court and U.S. District Court, but the federal complaints were dismissed.
Unfortunately, Oregon has a Tort Claim Act that limits the damages that public agencies such as TriMet have to pay if a jury finds them liable for causing injury or death, The Oregonian reported. Under that ridiculous law, TriMet only would have had to pay $1 million that all the plaintiffs would have to divvy up.
TriMet did instead agree to fork over twice that limit, the $2 million.
Bus manufacturer New Flyer of Winnipeg, Manitoba, paid the other half of the $4 million settlement.
A grand jury found that bus driver Day didn’t commit any criminal acts, but she was cited for a half dozen traffic violations and was fired by TriMet.