Passenger Claimed Disabling Injuries Due to Bus Rollover – Settlement: $400,000 [2007-08-27]
Venue: U.S. District Court, Eastern District, NY
Judge: Robert M. Levy
Peter DeFilippis; Peter DeFilippis & Associates P.C.; New York, NY, for Chevelle McKayle
Experts: called by: Peter DeFilippis
Mohammad Rahman M.D.; Physical Therapy; Elmhurst, NY
Mehran Manouel M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Forest Hills, NY
Leon Sultan M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Forest Hills, NY called by:
Mark Eisenberg M.D.; Neurosurgery; Great Neck, NY
Stuart Sachnin MSED; Vocational Assessment; New York, NY
George S. Kolbe; Raven & Kolbe LLP; New York, NY, for ABC Bus Leasing, Inc., T&S Tours, Inc. (a/k/a T&T Tours, Inc.), CRT Tours, Inc., F&M Bus-Van Corp., Marvin T. Alston
Experts: called by: George Kolbe
Edward Weiland M.D.; Neuropsychiatry; Brooklyn, NY
A. Tantleff M.D.; Radiology; East Hills, NY
Edward Toriello M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Middle Village, NY
Joyce Mesch-Spinello Ph.D; Vocational Rehabilitation; New York, NY
Lancer Insurance Co. for all Defendants
On Feb. 21, 2004, plaintiff Chevelle McKayle, 36, a finance bankruptcy investigator for Chase Bank, was a passenger on a bus driven by Marvin Alston as it traveled north on Route CR-24. At approximately 3:23 am, the bus attempted to make a left turn in the town of Belmont in the county of Franklin and it spun out of control. It hit a snow bank on the side of the road, causing it to overturn onto its side, and then spin around on its side. The other passengers, who were not provided with seatbelts on the bus, fell on top of McKayle during the accident. McKayle claimed that she sustained injuries to her right shoulder, head and neck as a result of the accident and 29 others were also injured in the accident, including one fatality.
McKayle sued the owner of the bus, ABC Leasing, Inc.; the lessee, CRT Tours, Inc.; the companies that borrowed the bus, T&S Tours, Inc. (also know as T&T Tours, Inc.) and F&M Bus-Van Corp.; and the driver of the vehicle, Marvin Alston. She alleged that Alston was negligent in the operation of the vehicle and that the remaining defendants were vicariously liable for Alston’s actions.
McKayle claimed that Alston was negligent for failing to keep control of the vehicle and take better care when there was a possibility of icy conditions on the road. She also claimed that the defendants were negligent for failing to provide seatbelts to its passengers.
The defendants conceded liability per a pre-trial stipulation. F&M Bus-Van Corp. defaulted in the proceeding and a default judgment was entered against the corporation.
McKayle claimed that she could not move immediately after the accident and that she had to be helped out of the bus by a fireman who escorted her through the front windshield. She claimed that she sustained a torn rotator cuff as a result of the accident. She also alleged that the crash caused an exacerbation of a pre-existing Chiari Type-I malformation of her cerebellar tonsils at C1. This is a congenital deformity where a brain protrusion impinges the spinal cord and impedes flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. McKayle alleged that following the accident, she left with headaches and pain to her neck, and shoulder. She underwent arthroscopic surgery on the rotator cuff injury and a suboccipital craniectomy to correct the Chiari malformation. She also underwent a steady course of physical therapy to relieve the headaches and pain in her neck and shoulder.
Plaintiff’s neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery experts opined that McKayle’s malformation was dormant prior to the accident and that the bus impact had triggered the symptoms which necessitated the surgery.
McKayle claimed that she had been unable to return to work since the accident. She alleged that she had incurred approximately $41,000 of past medical expenses, which was covered by her insurance, and $68,884 in past lost earnings, which was partially reimbursed by insurance, no-fault and disability. She sought recovery for her past and future pain and suffering.
Defense counsel would have argued that some of McKayle’s injuries were pre-existing and not causally related to the accident. The defendants would have alleged that McKayle’s Chiari Type-I malformation was pre-existing and that her symptoms would have occurred regardless of the bus accident. Defense counsel would have also argued that McKayle’s alleged radiating pain and headaches were related to her pre-existing Chiari malformation and/or due to a prior motor vehicle accident in 1995, where McKayle also alleged neck and back injuries. Defense would have claimed that these conditions would have caused her radiating pain and headaches even if the 2004 accident had not occurred. The defendants also would have claimed that McKayle would have been able to return to work.
Verdict Information The parties agreed to settle prior to trial for $400,000 for McKayle’s pain and suffering.
Editor’s Comments This report is based on information that was provided by Plaintiff’s counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.