An Ohio jury awarded a man who was seriously injured in a 2013 Greyhound bus crash in Pennsylvania more than $27 million in compensatory and punitive damages last month. The jurors found that the bus company and its driver were negligent in the operation of the vehicle. Mark Soberay, 45, had been sleeping in the front passenger seat when the Greyhound bus crashed in the early morning hours of Oct. 9, 2013, on I-80 in White Deer Township, Penn.
The driver, Sabrina Anderson, allegedly fell asleep at the wheel and collided with the back of a tractor trailer that was also traveling in the westbound lane. The impact killed one passenger, a 37-year-old tourist from Vietnam. The front of the bus crumpled in on Mr. Soberay and it took rescuers three hours to free him from the wreckage. Mr. Soberay remained conscious the entire time despite his injuries, which included a severed urethra; a crushed leg that had to be surgically amputated; torn shoulder muscles; crushed arm, foot, and pelvis bones; and a hole in his heart. Mr. Soberay’s extensive crash injuries have required him to undergo more than 30 surgeries in the months since the crash.
Greyhound’s lawyers argued that Ms. Anderson did not fall asleep, but instead suffered a mini stroke that caused her to lose consciousness. Mr. Soberay’s lawyers successfully argued that the driver had likely fallen asleep because she had driven more than 150 miles in the early morning hours without a break. That was contrary to a Greyhound anti-fatigue rule that requires its drivers to stop and rest every 150 miles. The only scheduled stop on the New York City to Cleveland route was more than 200 miles from the bus’s departure point.
Mr. Soberay’s lawyers also demonstrated to the jury how Greyhound has historically claimed its drivers suffered medical emergencies in crashes even when investigators found they had fallen asleep. The Cuyahoga County jury awarded Mr. Soberay more than $23 million in compensatory damages. The jurors also awarded him an additional $4,000,150 in punitive damages. The extra $150 was intended as a reminder to Greyhound to uphold the 150-mile rule. That was an interesting twist to say the least. It made a point and hopefully, Greyhound got the message.
Sources: Cleveland.com and Law360.com
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