On September 22, 2016, Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers Jon Ostoff and Louis Ricciardi were among the speakers of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice’s (PAJ) Trial of the Month teleseminar. Ostroff and Ricciardi spoke about their recent verdict, Hoang v. Greyhound.
A Philadelphia jury awarded $3.05 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages against Greyhound on behalf four passengers injured in a 2013 bus accident. The bus driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with a tractor trailer on interstate I-80. Son Thih Than Hoang was ejected from the bus and killed in the 2013 crash.
Passengers recalled that the driver appeared tired when she boarded the vehicle for an overnight trip from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio. Drivers are not required to be assessed for fatigue at the New York terminal.
“I think Greyhound was more at fault for this crash than the driver who fell asleep behind the wheel because they allowed a dangerous driver to drive,” Ostroff told CNN.
Greyhound’s Rule G-40 requires drivers to stop about every 150 miles get out and walk around the bus, check the tires and stretch. These steps are designed to mitigate fatigue, but the rule is not actively enforced.
“Greyhound must update and enforce its driver safety rules and fatigue management policies or these preventable, catastrophic, fatigue-related crashes will continue,” said Ostroff in an interview.
The PAJ seminar included bus accident litigation topics relative to the case ruling, as well as three more upcoming trials against Greyhound. Topics included:
- Overcoming adverse police investigation
- Building a claim for corporate punitive damages
- How corporate claim files were obtained in discovery
- Obtaining apex depositions/trial attendance
- Establishing liability against commercial carriers, e.g., inadequate fatigue and driver management, sudden medical emergency defense
The Hoang case was significant because Ostroff’s team succeeded in obtaining the first ever release of claims handling documents and memorandums from the company handling the injury claims in collaboration with Greyhound. In attempt to prevent the release, Greyhound withheld the documents for more than a year, until the Superior Court upheld the plaintiff’s’ right to obtain the documents. Greyhound’s appeal to the PA Supreme Court was denied.
Ostroff Injury Law still has three more trials – each with four plaintiffs – pending against Greyhound