DALLAS, Sept. 16 2004 LAWFUEL – Best for law news, legal news, attorneys, legal research, lawsuits The following was released today by
A Dallas County jury has found Dallas-based Discovery Tours of Texas and
its owner Eric Rockmore liable for a June 24, 2002, bus accident near Terrell,
Texas, that killed five people and injured many more.
The jury of five men and seven women awarded a total of almost $71 million
to 20 plaintiffs on behalf of 17 teenagers who were injured in the bus crash.
The verdict handed down today in Judge Mary Murphy’s 14th District Court
followed nearly three days of deliberations.
“Today’s verdict can’t bring back those who died, and it can’t take away
the physical and mental scars suffered by those who were on the bus that day,”
says attorney Mark Werbner of Sayles Werbner in Dallas, who represented the
family of one injured victim, 15-year-old Nick Stout. “What we hope it will
do is send a clear message to other transportation companies that their
passengers get the care they deserve.”
The bus was carrying a youth group from Metro Church of Garland to a
church camp in Louisiana when it hit a concrete abutment on Interstate 20.
The crash tore the bus into pieces, killing four children and the driver,
Tests later showed that Mr. Carter was under the influence of cocaine and
Valium at the time of the crash. Telephone records indicated Carter did not
get the amount of rest the federal government requires prior to getting behind
Jurors spent a portion of the more than 3-week trial listening to
testimony from Nick Stout’s father. He told the jury that his son’s injuries,
including permanent brain damage, debilitating damage to his right leg, and
the loss of one ear, mean Nick will need constant care for the rest of his
life. The younger Stout’s doctor testified that the teen now has the mental
capacity of a third grader.
In addition to Mark Werbner, the Stouts were also represented by Eric
Pearson and John Conway of Sayles Werbner. The jury awarded Nick Stout and
his family approximately $36 million in actual damages. The remaining
18 plaintiffs were awarded a total of nearly $33 million in actual damages.
Each of the 20 plaintiffs was awarded $100,000 in punitive damages, for a
total punitive damage award of $2 million.
Other plaintiffs in the case were represented by attorneys David Schiller
and Stephen Khoury of Dallas. Mr. Rockmore and Discovery Tours were
represented by attorney Rob Miller of Dallas.