Many Americans and visitors rely on buses and shuttles as a form of daily transportation. Others seek them out for long-distance travel or on short trips around airports and hotels. These vehicles – and those entrusted to drive them – are supposed to be safe. All too often, though, we are reminded of cases in which they are not, proving how vulnerable we are in bus accidents.
Recently, an appeals court in California affirmed a decision by a trial court in Gee v. Greyhound Lines, Inc. to set aside the dismissal of a plaintiff’s bus accident claim and allow her to proceed in her quest for damages.
According to records from the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District in Sacramento, the plaintiff filed her claim in July 2012, alleging that she suffered injuries from a motor vehicle accident in July 2010, in which she was a passenger on a commercial bus. The driver, now deceased, was allegedly traveling at a high rate of speed, causing the bus to slam into two other vehicles before colliding with a tree. The plaintiff stated claims for general negligence, intentional tort, and product liability. She reportedly suffered physical and emotional injuries as a result of the bus accident and sought compensation for medical expenses, wage losses, loss of earning capacity, and punitive damages.
After the plaintiff filed her lawsuit, the bus company filed a motion to switch the venue from Sacramento to Fresno, stating most of the defendants were domiciled in the latter location. The motion to change venue was granted, and the court ordered the plaintiff to pay the transfer fees. However, she did not respond or pay those fees. For this reason, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice. The plaintiff didn’t oppose the motion or request to be heard, and the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. That was in February 2014.
In April 2014, the plaintiff filed a motion to set aside the dismissal. At that hearing, the plaintiff’s attorney asked that the dismissal be set aside because the failure to respond was due to his error. He decided not to oppose the motion to change venue, seeing that there were approximately 50 plaintiffs in this action (from the same bus accident), and most filed their cases in Fresno. It was his understanding that the moving party (i.e., the defendant) would be responsible for paying the cost of transferring the case. He then reviewed his files and realized he hadn’t received anything from the Fresno Superior Court notifying of a trial date. It was only then that he checked with the Sacramento County court and saw that the matter had been dismissed for a failure to pay transfer fees. He asked that the court vacate the order to dismiss. The defendant filed an opposition to the motion, arguing the neglect was inexcusable because the attorney had adequate notice and failed to exercise reasonable diligence.
The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion to set aside the dismissal, saying it was not necessary to find the mistake by the attorney was inexcusable.
The defense appealed, but the appellate court affirmed, finding no evidence the trial court abused its discretion. That means the motor vehicle accident lawsuit will continue in Fresno.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Gee v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., Nov. 21, 2016, California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District in Sacramento
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Anderson v. Hilton Hotels Corp. – Hotel Liability for Criminal Attack, Nov. 21, 2016, Charlotte Bus Accident Lawyer Blog