Wednesday , May 29 2024

Judge Grants A Retrial In Greyhound Accident Case

A Fresno County judge has granted a retrial in the Greyhound bus crash that killed six people in 2010. Only three months ago a jury ruled that Greyhound was not negligent when the driver crashed into an overturned vehicle on Highway 99 but now a judge says there’s enough evidence to prove otherwise.

Attorneys say it’s not very common for a judge to grant a retrial in a civil case but based on three key elements in the evidence, the case will once again be heard inside a civil courthouse.

A mangled SUV and a Greyhound bus in the middle of Highway 99 and McKinley, six people died when that bus hit the overturned SUV in the median back in July of 2010. Attorneys have argued it was Greyhound’s fault.

"That bus driver was negligent, he wasn’t wearing his glasses, he was speeding. He was not driving the way a professional driver should have been driving," Attorney Stuart Chandler said.

The occupants in the overturned SUV who were killed were Vanessa Gonzalez, Stephanie Cordoba and Silvia Garay. CHP identified Garay as the driver with a blood alcohol level of at least 0.11 percent.

Their families say the young women should be alive. "In the three or four minutes from the time the SUV overturned until bus hit them, other cars didn’t hit them….the one vehicle whose supposed to have most caution, didn’t even slow down," Chandler said.

The three families sued Greyhound after a civil trial that lasted 20 days, a jury decided Greyhound was not negligent. Gonzalez and Garay’s family then filed a motion for a retrial.

"Judge Black ruled that the weight of the evidence shows the jury clearly got that wrong, that the driver was negligent," Chandler said.

The judge decided there’s enough evidence to show the bus driver, 57 year old James Jewett, was speeding, not wearing his glasses, and made an unsafe lane change just before the crash.

Attorney’s representing Greyhound were not available for comment but Legal Analyst Charles Magill believes Greyhound will have a tough time proving their driver was not at fault.

"My suspicion is that this is gonna be a better opportunity for Greyhound to settle this for negotiations versus trying again," Magill said.

A retrial could happen as early as next year unless Greyhound files an appeal, in that case it could be up to three years before another trial.

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