Chili eating blamed for pedestrian death

A recently filed wrongful death and negligence lawsuit seeks to hold a bus driver liable for the death and injury of pedestrians in 2016 because he allegedly looked away from the road to throw away a chili container. The plaintiffs also charged that this was the driver's fortieth vehicle accident since joining the Southwest Regional Transit Authority in 2006.

The injured victim claimed that she was crossing Erie Avenue with her father at a walk light after dining out on January 27, 2016. The SORTA driver was eating chili as he drove the bus. When he looked down to throw away the cup, the bus crossed Erie inside the crosswalk where the pedestrians were crossing, according to the complaint. She said that she was knocked to the ground and heard her father scream when he was dragged under the bus.

Although the bus was traveling at low speed, according to the lawsuit, the driver could not regain control over the vehicle until it drove over her leg and her father was under the rear axle. Her father was killed in the collision. She suffered severe foot, ankle and leg injuries that caused permanent and substantial deformity.

In her lawsuit, she claimed that SORTA engaged in negligence with its training of the bus driver, entrusting him with driving a bus, keeping him as a driver even though he was involved in 39 earlier traffic accidents, infliction of emotional distress and legal responsibility for the driver's actions. The plaintiff also accused the driver with negligence for unsafe operation of the bus and infliction of emotional distress.

Both defendants were also accused of wrongful death for this fatal accident. She seeks compensatory damages over $25,000 to be determined at trial, punitive damages against the driver, pre-and post-judgment interest and attorney fees.

In August of 2016, the driver pled guilty to vehicular homicide in criminal court. He was sentenced to three years of probation.

Source: The Cincinnati Business Courier, "Lawsuit accuses Metro driver of eating chili during fatal crash," Andy Brownfield, Feb. 1, 2018

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