Ohio justices asked to consider liability in team bus crash

Kathy Woods Jan. 20, 2010, 12:28pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (legal Newsline)-The families of four college baseball players who were killed in a charter bus accident out-of-state are asking the Ohio Supreme Court to decide whether the bus driver and the charter bus company should be covered under the school's insurance policy.

The accident, which occurred in Atlanta in 2007, is believed to be caused by a mismarked exit ramp. The accident took the lives of five Bluffton University baseball players, the bus driver and his wife.

The families filed a wrongful death lawsuit in October of 2007 and the state settled the suit in 2009 by paying $3 million, the maximum that was allowed by state law.

"State tort law limits the state's liability to $3 million per occurrence, no matter how many people were hurt," Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman David Spear was quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying.

In all, there were 35 people on the bus, seven were killed and another 28 were injured. Even so, the state's maximum liability is $3 million per occurrence.

It is believed that in the rush to install High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) signs before the 1996 Olympic Games, the road sign was left off the exit where the bus crashed. Had the sign been there, some say the bus driver would have continued on the HOV lane but instead turned into the exit lane.

The decision from the Ohio Supreme Court will determine coverage before the families and players could file individual lawsuits.

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