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Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settled by Ohio School Bus Company

When we send our children off to school, we expect them to be taken care of, and we also expect them to be kept safe. From the school bus to the school house doors, it is expected that the school system, school administrators, and school personnel will act in such a manner that ensures the safety of our children. However, in the case of one Missouri young man, adequate care was not taken by school affiliated personnel to ensure his safety. Mason Adams, a then high school junior, was struck and killed by a school bus.

According to Cincinnati.com, a Cincinnati, Ohio based school bus company paid $5 million earlier this month to settle the wrongful death lawsuit that stemmed from the wrongful death of Mason Adams, who was killed after one of the drivers for First Student drove a bus over, and killed the teen.

The wrongful death case, filed by Mason’s mother, Bridgett Blasi, alleged that a 23 year old First Student bus driver failed to defrost or scrape the windshield of the bus he was operating, and as a result drove the bus over the 16 year old, who was legally crossing the street in St. Joseph, Missouri. The incident, which occurred on November 15, 2010, resulted in Mason Adams’ death.

Despite the obvious negligence of its employee, First Student, which also has a contract to transport Cincinnati Public School students, refused to admit its role in Mason’s death, until First Student finally decided to settle the suit, earlier this month. According to Blasi’s attorney, Michael Kuckelman “What Ms. Blasi has been seeking for over a year was an apology and acknowledgment of responsibility from First Student. What she wanted for over a year was to stop blaming her son. They said he wasn’t paying attention and that just isn’t true.”

According to Cincinnati.com, the bus’ video captured the incident and showed that the driver’s failure to defrost the windshield left him unable to see the teen crossing in front of the bus in a crosswalk and legally with the light.

The case was ready for trial, according to the family’s attorney, Michael Kuckelman, but ended when First Student agreed to pay Blasi a $5 million settlement, to apologize, admit the company’s role in her son’s death and allow her to help its drivers learn from this case. Kuckelman said “First Student has agreed that the mother will have the opportunity to participate in training (drivers) to being a first-hand account of how people suffer from a company cutting corners.” The bus driver, Kuckelman added, was convicted last year of a misdemeanor in connection with the death.

As a Georgia attorney who regularly handles wrongful death cases, it is refreshing to see a negligent company actually take responsibility for its actions, as well as the actions of its employees. It is a shame that First Student took as long as it did to reach a settlement with Mason’s family, and it is also deplorable that the company chose to blame the victim instead of simply taking responsibility for its actions. Although the pain of losing a child must be extremely hard to bear for Mason’s mother, it is my desire that she received some sort of closure from the resolution of this case.