Bus driver falls asleep at the wheel

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Case in Point

October 25, 2011

Bus driver falls asleep at the wheel 

Fifteen passengers who were injured in the resulting crash, along with the families of two passengers who were killed, sued the bus company and the driver, alleging the driver’s untreated sleep apnea led to the crash. The parties settled at mediation for $3.25 million. Hill v. Bold Lines, Inc.
 
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Edwin Erickson was a bus driver for Bold Lines, Inc., which ran a trip to a casino. On the way to the casino, several of the 22 passengers allegedly saw Erickson almost lose control of the bus. On the return trip, Erickson allegedly nodded, bobbed, and shook his head as he drove on the highway. He then veered the bus into a grassy median and landed the vehicle on its side in a ditch. Two passengers, ages 56 and 52, were killed. Fifteen others suffered injuries, including back fractures, bruises, and emotional distress, incurring about $550,000 in aggregate medical expenses.

Seventeen victims and families sued Bold Lines, Inc., and Erickson, alleging he had fallen asleep while driving due to untreated obstructed sleep apnea.

The defense moved for summary judgment, arguing that the accident resulted from a sudden, unavoidable medical emergency. The trial court denied the motion, holding that, among other things, Erickson had lied to his physicians and DOT examiners regarding his medical history and may have been exhibiting symptoms of his condition before the accident.

The parties settled at mediation for $3.25 million.

Citation: Hill v. Bold Lines, Inc., No. 24-CV-10-135 (Minn., Freeborn Co. Dist. Sept. 14, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: James Suk and Paul Dahlberg, both of Rochester, Minnesota; and AAJ member Richard A. Ruohonen, Minneapolis.


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