State Appellate Court Reverses Judgment for Defendant in Bus Accident Case

A panel of the California Court of Appeals recently published an opinion reversing a trial court’s entry of a judgment favoring the defendant in a case filed by a woman who was injured while boarding a shuttle bus operated by the defendant. The appellate court found that the lower court’s decision not to impose at least a duty of ordinary care on the defendant was not justifiable under the circumstances. Since the previous judgment in favor of the defendant has been reversed, the plaintiff’s claim will return to the trial court to proceed toward a settlement, trial, or other disposition.

Plaintiff Is Injured Boarding a Shuttle Bus to the Defendant’s Casino

The plaintiff in the case of Huang v. The Bicycle Casino was injured in a fall when she was pushed to the ground by other passengers as they all attempted to board a shuttle bus that was operated by the defendant as part of a promotion to attract customers to a casino. According to the facts discussed in the opinion, it was relatively common for there to be more passengers attempting to board the shuttle buses than there were seats available, which resulted in a chaotic boarding situation that the plaintiff alleged was the cause of her broken hip that she suffered when she was pushed to the ground. The plaintiff later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking damages as compensation for her injuries.

The Trial Court Grants Summary Judgment to the Defendant on All Claims

After the plaintiff’s case was filed, the parties disputed the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant was providing transportation to the public as a “common carrier,” a designation that triggers a heightened duty to ensure passengers’ safety. The defendant successfully argued to the trial court that since the shuttle buses do not collect a fare, they should not be treated as a common carrier. The trial court found under the circumstances that the defendant only had a duty to provide ordinary care and that the plaintiff’s injuries were outside the realm of that duty. As a result of these findings, the trial court entered judgment for the defendant on all of the plaintiff’s claims, forcing her to file an appeal to continue her case.

The Appellate Court Disagrees with the Trial Court and Reverses the Judgment

The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s disposition of her case on multiple grounds, and the appellate court was receptive to both of her arguments. The panel decided that the trial court’s finding that the defendant was not a common carrier was inappropriate, ruling that free shuttles may be common carriers in the event that they are operated for a benefit to the defendant.

Although the court did not rule conclusively that the defendant was a common carrier, the court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the question to be determined by the finder of fact. The appellate division also considered the plaintiff’s claim that even if the defendant was not a common carrier and only owed passengers a duty of ordinary care, they still could be found liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The appellate court found that the danger created by the defendant’s shuttle practices was foreseeable, preventable, and not subject to any exceptions that would have justified granting summary judgment to the defendant without a trial. With the plaintiff’s victories on appeal, the case will return to the lower court to proceed toward a settlement or trial.

How To Proceed with a Case if You Have Been Injured?

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by an act of negligence on public or private property, you may have a cause of action to collect damages as compensation for your claim. Contacting a knowledgeable Miami personal injury attorney is the first step to seeking relief. The qualified South Florida personal injury and negligence attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank are experienced in the pursuit of negligence, accident, premises liability, and other personal injury or wrongful death claims. If you choose us to represent you, we’ll fight for a fair settlement from the start and won’t be afraid to take your case all the way to a jury trial if the defendant does not offer a reasonable settlement. Schedule a free consultation to talk about the details of your case. Contact us at 877-448-8585 or use our web-based form to get started on your claim today.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Court Refuses to Impose Sanctions Against Pharmacy for Destruction of Evidence in Prescription Error Lawsuit, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 4, 2016.

Appellate Court Rejects $885,000 Verdict Against Educational Institution in Auto-Pedestrian Accident Case, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 19, 2016.

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