$5 Million Bus Dragging Trial
Ally’s TrialOn May 15, 2015 Ally – a 7 year old special needs student in first grade at Wilkerson Elementary School – was drug for one minute and a quarter of mile by a Jefferson County Public School System (JCPS) school bus. Ally’s backpack straps got caught in the bus doors when she stepped to the pavement and the bus driver drove off with Ally in tow. While Ally was being drug like a rag doll – and going into shock – the JCPS bus driver allowed a child to stand the entire time, had an unsecured glass mason jar on her dashboard that blocked her view of a mirror that would have shown Ally bouncing along the pavement, and barreled through a stop sign at 19mph. The JCPS bus driver – who was the only named Defendant due to sovereign immunity – stopped only when a Good Samaritan in a red Camaro pulled in front of her, slammed on his brakes, and stopped, fully expecting the bus to crash into his Camaro. Here is a porch camera video of the dragging.
Here is the bus camera video of Ally being drug.
The CPS investigation finding substantiated “neglect” and found there was “severe maltreatment” of Ally by the JCPS bus driver. This evidence was excluded from the trial, as was the fact that CPS conducted the investigation. However, the CPS investigator, Krisha Byron, was allowed to testify as to certain factual findings in her investigation, such as a phone call she had with the bus driver where the bus driver claimed the investigation was on a “goddamn witch hunt looking for someone to blame” and hung up on the investigator.
Six of the JCPS bus driver’s superiors admitted on the witness stand that her conduct was “reckless.” The top two – Transportation Director Rick Caple and Coordinator of Bus Driver Training David Breitenstein – were taken one step further during vigorous cross examination by Bo. Both admitted on the stand that a substantial jury verdict would be an effective tool to deter other bus drivers in Jefferson County, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and across the country from acting recklessly like JCPS’s bus driver did on May 15, 2015.
The JCPS bus driver’s concealment of her reckless conduct was confirmed by CPS investigator Byron’s testimony.
Ally suffers from life-long physical and mental injuries from the dragging. Ally’s physical injuries consist of disfiguring scars on her legs with permanent nerve damage resulting in neuropathic pain due to the gouges in her left leg in particular. These physical injuries were proven through her pediatric surgeon, Dr. Sheldon Bond,
pediatric plastic surgeon, Dr. John Derr,
and pediatric neurologist, Dr. Michael Oldham.
Ally’s mental injuries consist of PTSD with anxiety and mood disorders including periods of anger never before experienced by Ally. Her mental injuries were proven through counselor, Dr. Beth Simon,
and counselor Ms. Abbie Yadon.
Ally’s mental injuries were also supported by PhD Dr. Richard Edelson, neuropsychologist, who had been hired by the defense to evaluate Ally. Bo took a strategic 45-minute deposition of Dr. Edelson which he intended to – and did play – to the jury. Among other things, Dr. Edelson testified he independently determined Ally had PTSD from being drug,
she was a special needs child who would have special problems dealing with her injuries,
pain would trigger her PTSD,
and in his “final analysis” if she had permanent pain she would have permanent PTSD.
The defense was the bus driver accepted fault, was sorry, and they wanted Ally to be compensated fairly and reasonably. JCPS’s bus driver’s testimony that it “seems like there were errors everyone’s part” did not align with her defense.
Her inability to tell the truth about the child standing,
the glass jar blocking her view of the mirror,
and running the stop sign
were also inconsistent with her “falling on her sword” defense.
The lack of intellectual integrity behind their defense was underscored by the testimony of Dr. Edelson who the defense called live – and last – at trial where he divorced himself from his deposition testimony 4 months earlier. The defense called Dr. Edelson in an unsuccessful attempt to unfairly and untruthfully minimize Ally’s injuries. Bo wiped the floor with him on the stand, showing Dr. Edelson to be the hired gun he was paid to be. The most glaring departure from his deposition testimony was Dr. Edelson testifying at trial that he knew more than the board-certified medical doctors who testified Ally’s pain was permanent.
The reason Dr. Edelson testified untruthfully at trial was because if he acknowledged her pain is permanent this means Ally’s PTSD is permanent, as all her treating providers had testified, and which Dr. Edelson had acknowledged at his deposition. Dr. Edelson also testified Ally was no more anxious than any child her age and her improvement was consistent and positive, not knowing counselor Yadon had testified earlier that Ally’s progress was slow with periods of regression.
Amusingly, when Dr. Edelson testified about his recent detailed review of Ally’s therapy records – which he had only cursorily looked at before his deposition – he commented he knew Dr. Simon to be a man from his work over the past 45 years in the psychology and neuropsychology field. Dr. Edelson did not laugh when he had to be told Dr. Simon was a woman.
In July 2021 Bo tried this case for 4 days in Jefferson Circuit Court with his co-counsel, David Yates. Bo was brought on board to litigate the case in December 2018. Suit was immediately filed, the bus camera video was obtained from CPS, and over 30 depositions were taken including medical proof that established Ally’s permanent physical and mental injuries. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic delayed getting Ally’s case to trial for over a year and a half.
Bo did not get the opportunity to argue Ally’s case to the jury. The morning of closings the case settled for the $5 million dollars limits of coverage from Traveler’s insurance company. Travelers had offered $750,000 at mediation in December 2018 and had raised that offer to $2 million in 2019 where it remained through COVID until the Friday during the first week of trial when it was raised to $3.5 million. After Bo crossed Dr. Edelson – the last witness – Traveler’s $5 million limits was put on the table the evening before closings. While there was conceivably $5 million more in insurance to be obtained from an excess policy – which was being defended under a reservation of rights – Ally’s mom, Amy, understandably wanted to settle because she needed closure for Ally and her family. They have been living the horror for 6 years – with nearly 3 years in litigation – and with the settlement Ally is taken care of financially for the rest of her life.
Please see the below links to this case which went viral after the bus camera video
For more on this case, and others, please visit our Verdicts & Settlements page.