Magoffin County Schools Face Lawsuit Over Bus Crash
MAGOFFIN COUNTY, Kentucky (WKYT) — The Magoffin County School District and one of its bus drivers are being sued.
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The lawsuit was filed by the mothers of two students injured in a bus accident last month. They argue that the school system has failed to provide and enforce an adequate safety policy.
The defendants in the lawsuit named bus driver Wanda Bailey and the Magoffin County Board of Education.
The complaint requires money for medical and other expenses and penalties.
More than a month after this school bus fell off the side of the road in Magoffin County, the injuries of the 18 children who were on the bus are still very serious.
Several students who were on this bus on November 14 spent several days in the hospital with severe injuries.
Billy Johnson is a personal injury attorney in Pikeville. He represents two families who filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Magoffin County Schools and the bus driver, alleging negligence.
“I want to get to the bottom of it. I want to find out what happened,” Johnson said. “I want to take care of these children. I want all these children to be taken care of. I want to send a message that this will not be allowed in eastern Kentucky. Our community won’t let that happen.”
Johnson says their case will allege that the bus driver’s reckless driving caused the bus to run over the embankment. The lawsuit also accuses the county of negligent supervision and is also liable.
“There needs to be training, there needs to be supervision and monitoring of these drivers to the point that communities don’t have to worry about getting on the bus to go to school,” Johnson said.
No hearing dates have been set as the lawsuit has just been filed and the county has time to file a response.
Johnson says he expects more families and lawyers to join the suit, which could take more than a year to either go to court or go to court.
Outside of the suit, Johnson says safety on Kentucky 40 and similar rural roads also needs to be improved.
“You know, if you run off the road down the plain, you will end up in a field. Up here, you run off the road, crash into an oak tree, crash into a rock, or fly over a mountain. We’re definitely looking into it,” Johnson said.
Johnson says they are looking into the design of the road and are calling for a barrier to be installed to improve safety.
“No matter how long it takes, we will get to the bottom of it and find out what happened,” Johnson said.
Magoffin County School Board Attorney Don McFarland released a statement regarding the lawsuit:
By the way, we have not received any formally filed lawsuits from Johnson’s lawyer. Several students are represented by attorneys from all over the Commonwealth and, I understand, by attorneys from other states as well. My guess is that there will be several lawsuits alleging negligence on the part of almost everyone associated with the school system. The Magoffin County School System claims to properly train, supervise, test, and supervise all of its employees, including bus drivers. This bus accident was a devastating accident and an extremely unfortunate event that was beyond the control of the Magoffin County School Board. The Superintendent and the Board of Education will always and always be concerned about the safety, education, and well-being of our students, and we deeply regret that this tragic accident has occurred.
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