A Philadelphia jury awarded a $5.05 million verdict to four passengers in a case known as Hoang v. Greyhound. They were injured when a Greyhound bus collided with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 80 in Central Pennsylvania.
The jury found Greyhound and its driver, Sabrina Anderson, to have acted negligently and to have recklessly disregarded the lives of its passengers.
On July 22, 2016, after a six-week trial, the jury awarded separate verdicts to each of the four passengers, totaling $3.05 million in compensatory money damages and an additional $2 million in rarely awarded punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to deter or punish Greyhound for “outrageous” conduct that was a factual cause in this crash.
According to court records, the jury found Greyhound and Anderson to be 100 percent at fault for the accident. More specifically, Anderson was found to be 55 percent negligent and Greyhound 45 percent negligent. Court records also confirmed that the jury also found that the conduct of defendant, Greyhound Bus Lines, Inc. was deemed “outrageous,” resulting in the punitive damages awarded to each of the plaintiffs.
Preventable fatigue-related crashes
“Greyhound must update and enforce its driver safety rules and fatigue management policies or these preventable, catastrophic, fatigue-related crashes will continue,” Lead Counsel Jon Ostroff said.
“The testimony of CEO David Leach made it clear that Greyhound places profit above the safety of its passengers,” Ostroff says. “Until Greyhound is restructured and safety is given adequate priority and oversight, particularly with respect to fatigue management of its drivers and enforcement of its safety rules, these fatigue-related highway crashes will likely continue.”
“It’s time for the government to intervene and create regulations intended to prevent these fatigue-related crashes from continuing. Appropriate regulations must be implemented, especially with inherently dangerous long routes like the one in our case, which was an overnight, 463-mile route with only one scheduled rest stop for the driver,” he says.
Greyhound’s Safety Director Alan Smith testified that Greyhound had not made any significant changes to its fatigue management program since 2006, which was before he and CEO Leach took over their positions. It is clear that if safety, including proper training and management of its drivers continues to be left in the hands of Greyhound without industry oversight, passengers will continue to be at risk.”
The individual verdict amounts were allocated by the jury to the four passengers as follows:
▪ $3 million for a 21-year-old woman who sustained cervical spine injuries, non- displaced broken bones in her foot, displaced tibia fibula fracture requiring surgery, skull and facial fractures and a traumatic brain injury;
▪ $850,000 for a man who suffered from jaw and dental injuries, a broken wrist, and knee and ankle injuries;
▪ $625,000 for a female passenger who sustained a concussion and underwent six months of chiropractic visits for a back sprain and strain, and
▪ $575,000 for a passenger who suffered from spinal sprain and strain and received approximately six medical treatments.
Driver fell asleep
“The evidence at trial in this 2013 crash clearly confirmed that the driver was driving recklessly and fell asleep, because she had inadequate sleep before getting behind the wheel for this overnight NYC to Cleveland route, “Ostroff says. “She appeared tired to passengers before they boarded, but Greyhound does not require that drivers be assessed for fatigue (or other potential medical, drug or alcohol impairment) by anyone at its NYC terminal before she departed.”
“Greyhound also did not enforce its own safety rules for any drivers of long routes, which requires ‘safety stops’ every 150 miles. The purpose of safety stops is to give the drivers an opportunity to remain alert and awake.”
A CNN investigative report studied this crash and the lack of Greyhound’s safety stop enforcement and confirmed that Greyhound drivers are required to make this 150-mile safety stop. They further confirmed that management does not enforce this safety rule, and CEO Leach is aware of this.
“They don’t enforce their 150 miles safety rule because it costs them money,” Ostroff told CNN. “I would never allow anyone in my family or anyone I know and love to ride on a Greyhound bus.”
Settling cases in hospital rooms
On the day of the crash, Greyhound representatives made settlement offers and sought statements and medical authorizations from many passengers. Greyhound Vice President of Customer Experience Myron Watkins was the highest-ranking executive who was overseeing Greyhound’s response to this crash. Watkins testified that he was aware that adjusters and managers acting on behalf of Greyhound were approaching injured passengers at various hospitals and approaching and entering the hospital rooms of injured passengers.
One plaintiff in this recent trial was hospitalized for a concussion and back injuries. According to Greyhound documents, an adjuster acting on behalf of Greyhound was aware that she was admitted as a concussion patient and was “groggy,” but still attempted to end her injury claim by offering her $1,000 from Greyhound to settle her injury claim from her hospital bed. A Greyhound Terminal Manager also entered her room and approached her later that day. The company then offered the same client $45,000 shortly before trial. Her verdict of $625,000 in the recent Hoang v. Greyhound trial, was almost 14 times this pre-trial amount.
Ostroff Injury Law succeeded in obtaining the first ever release of claims handling documents and memorandums from the company handling the injury claims in collaboration with Greyhound. Greyhound attempted to prevent the release of these documents by withholding them for over a year, until the Superior Court upheld the plaintiffs’ right to obtain these documents. Greyhound’s appeal to the Pa Supreme Court was denied.
The trial team of attorneys at Ostroff Injury Law that obtained the Hoang v. Greyhound verdict were Jon Ostroff, Lou Ricciardi, William Coppol, Richard Godshall and Ryan Jablonski.
Ostroff Injury Law still represents 12 passengers injured in this crash. This trial was the first of four scheduled trials, each one on behalf of four clients – including the Estate of Son Thih Than Hoang, who was ejected and killed in this crash.
Ostroff Injury Law is located in Plymouth Meeting, PA and represents victims worldwide who are injured or killed in Greyhound Bus crashes. For more information, visit OstroffLaw.com.