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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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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