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Appeals panel upholds $3.9M verdict for bicyclist hit by school bus

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A student riding his bicycle to school on Washington Street in Indianapolis was hit by a school bus and critically injured, and a jury’s $3.9 million judgment in his favor was proper, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The panel affirmed the Marion Superior jury’s award in Saral Reed and Durham School Services, Inc. v. Richard Bethel, 49A02-1301-CT-9. The jury found total damages for Bethel of $5 million, but because it determined he was 25 percent at fault, it reduced the award accordingly.

Bethel sustained numerous injuries and was hospitalized for more than two weeks after the accident, according to the record. His injuries also deprived him an opportunity to become a U.S. Marine, and witnesses including his ROTC instructor testified he would have been a good candidate.   

Saral Reed, the bus driver, and Durham School Services challenged the verdict as excessive and argued on appeal that several exhibits should not have been admitted, including contract terms with Indianapolis Public Schools in which drivers would be assessed fees for any late buses. Reed and Durham also objected to admission of contract terms requiring insurance of at least $5 million, among other things, and that the cumulative effect of improperly admitted evidence deprived them of a fair trial.

But Judge Rudolph R. Pyle III wrote for the panel that in some cases those evidence objections weren’t properly preserved, and in any event, the evidence at trial was proper to admit. “Here, the evidence at trial reveals that Bethel suffered severe injuries and pain as a result of Reed hitting him with the bus. Bethel was initially trapped under the bus until Reed moved the bus and ran over him a second time.”

“The Defendants’ challenge to the jury’s damages verdict seems to be that the jury assigned too high a value on what it would take to compensate Bethel for his injuries and pain and suffering,”  Pyle wrote. “This challenge is nothing more than a request to reweigh the evidence, which we will not do.”

 


 
 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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