A lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, has been filed on behalf of the victims of a deadly bus crash that occurred in Baltimore last fall. It is seeking $10 million in damages, and alleges that the school bus driver that caused the accident was “wrongly cleared to work despite previous crashes and health problems.” It turns out, according to the lawsuit, Concentra, a Texas-based health care giant “which provides commercial driver certifications, overlooked multiple seizures suffered by bus driver Glenn Chappell, 67, when it cleared him to drive.” In addition to his history of seizures, federal investigators claim Chappell’s diabetes and hypertension “should have disqualified him from operating a commercial vehicle under state and federal law.”
The lawsuit is being handled by two firms, Murphy, Falcon & Murphy and Schochor, Federico & Staton, and in addition to Concentra, the lawsuit also names “Chappell’s employer, AAAfordable Transportation, and its owners and operators, Tracy and Aliyu Dabo” as responsible parties of the crash.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, what happened to cause the fatal accident? Well, back on November 1, Chappell was driving a school bus and “rear-ended a Ford Mustang before crossing into oncoming traffic and striking a Maryland Transit Administration bus.” Fortunately, there were no children on the bus at the time. However, the “driver and four passengers on the MTA bus were killed, as was Chappell.” In addition to Chappell, others who lost their lives that day included Ebonee Baker, who was the driver of the MTA bus, “Cherry Yarborough, 51, a secretary at the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Gerald Holloway, 51, a maintenance worker at Forest Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation; Terrance Casey, 52, a former volunteer minister, husband and father; and Pattie Lynn Martinez, 46, a homeless woman.” 11 others were injured.
Perhaps one of the most alarming things about this tragedy is that officials knew well beforehand that Chappell was a danger to others on the road, and never should have been given permission to drive a bus in the first place. In fact, doctors had “repeatedly cleared Chappell to drive, under a federal system designed to keep drivers with certain risky health conditions from operating passenger vehicles.” Additionally, just last month the National Transportation Safety Board reported that “Baltimore school officials had been alerted for years to crashes involving Chappell and to criminal charges against him, yet did not disqualify him from transporting students.” As a result, the “investigators identified several deficiencies in the way Baltimore and Maryland school officials vet school bus operators, and they urged reforms.”
When asked about the accusations, AAAfordable Transportation declined to comment, as did Concentra. However, Concentra did “extended its deepest condolences to the families of those who were lost or injured in the tragic bus accident.”