Carrollton school bus crash
Claims against all but bus driver dropped
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 10:00 AM
Claims filed against Carroll County Schools Superintendent Lisa James, members of the school's board of education and other school administrators after a fatal bus crash in October were dismissed Monday in Carroll County Circuit Court.
Carroll County Special Judge Bailey Taylor dismissed all claims except for those against bus driver Laura Reed.
The lawsuit was filed in November 2012, by Erica Cruz, mother of Dulce Cruz, and Charles and Kristina Hollingsworth, parents of Ryleigh Hollingsworth.
According to the lawsuit, Dulce Cruz sustained injuries to her leg and Ryleigh Hollingsworth sustained fractures to her collar bone, in addition to post-traumatic stress disorder and emotional injuries of both students.
Dulce Cruz and Ryleigh Hollingsworth spent about a week in the hospital after the accident.
Two 3-year-old Head Start students, Ryder Deitz and Caroline Tuttle, were killed in the accident.
The bus, which was transporting nine students and two adults, left the roadway in the 3200 block of Boone Road, turned on its side and crashed into a tree on Oct. 29.
Commonwealth Attorney Jim Crawford said after the court hearing Monday that a motion to dismiss the charges was made because the lawsuit was not filed against the school entity, but was filed against individuals. Governmental, sovereign and qualified immunity allows all state and school officials, including school board members and other administrators, to be exempt from being sued. The lawsuit also named one person who was no longer serving on the school board at the time of the accident, he said.
Because Kentucky is not a direct-action state, plaintiffs must bring a claim against the insured instead of against the insurance company. That means Reed may potentially be liable only to the extent of any liability insurance coverage the school carried on the bus depending on the outcome of the lawsuit, Crawford said. As an individual, Reed would have the same immunity as school board members and administrators.
Attorneys for the defendants also asked Taylor to disqualify the plaintiffs' attorney Eric Deters of Independence from serving on the case because of multiple statements and interviews Deters granted local to news outlets. Taylor denied the motion to disqualify Deters, stating it seemed premature but said that the motion could be brought before the court at a later date during the proceedings.