A Prince George’s County, Md., jury has awarded more than $90 million to a family whose 13-year-old daughter was struck and killed four years ago while crossing the street as she was trying to reach a school-bus stop. The parents of Ashley Davis, who was a high school freshman in Temple Hills, Md., sued the Prince George’s County Board of Education after the teenager died from injuries she sustained in 2009.

It was alleged and proved that the school system failed to provide secure and sufficient transportation. The Board of Education had a policy in place that requires that all children be picked up on their own side of the street only so that they don’t have to cross. But that did not happen in this case. The bus that had been assigned to pick up Ashley Davis did not show up as scheduled. Evidence was presented that overcrowding on buses and changes to bus stop locations were causing unsafe conditions for children. It was alleged:

The Board of Education … negligently failed to provide a safe bus stop for students who resided on the north side of Brinkley Road including the Plaintiff. The board knew or should have known that it was dangerous for students … to have to cross Brinkley Road” to be picked up by the school bus assigned to take to Crossland High School.

It was proved that from 11,000 to 18,000 cars drive down Brinkley Road every day. The school system is expected to appeal and to ask the trial judge to cap or reduce the damages. Under Maryland law, the liability of state and local government employees, acting without gross negligence or malice, may not exceed $200,000 per an individual claim and $500,000 per total claims. The jury found the school system was negligent and rejected the defenses of contributory negligence and assumption of risk.

The jurors awarded $13,000 to Ashley Davis’ estate for her funeral expenses and her own pain and suffering. They also awarded about $50.3 million to her mother, including $50 million in non-economic damages; and $40 million to her father, all for non-economic damages, on the wrongful death claim.

Source: Associated Press

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