Baltimore County Public Schools’ Preemptive Strike Over 2016 Hereford Bus Crash
Last April in Hereford, 42 Baltimore County students and one bus driver miraculously walked away from what could have been a much more devastating accident. Filled to capacity with three students to almost every seat, the bus driver lost control of the vehicle at a curve, crashing into a utility pole.
Nine students were taken to area hospitals. Dozens of students with less severe injuries were treated on the scene by emergency crews. Bonnie Faye Pessaro, a 25 year veteran bus driver, sustained the most severe injuries.
A parent of a passenger on the bus relayed her child’s account of what occurred immediately following the crash: “After all students exited the bus, the kids realized that the bus was under electrical lines and that the accident had severed the pole holding up the lines. The bus was still running and lying on its side. A student recognized that they needed to get away from the bus and the entire group began to walk up the hill towards the high school together. The students helped each other get up the hill – especially helping those that were physically injured and those that were very emotionally upset. They made sure that they did not veer into the road and that no one was left behind, including the bus driver.”
It was later found that speed was a factor in the cause of the accident. Sources maintain, however, that the bus had just returned from BCPS’ maintenance department for work on its brakes. The day of the accident was its first day back, after being out of commission for two weeks.
The crash, which occurred on April 6, 2016, happened on York Road north of Hereford High School and just south of Woodhall Wine Cellars. The bus had been traveling northbound and lost control during its descent toward the bridge that crosses over a segment of the Gunpowder River
Crashing through a utility pole, which absorbed the full speed and impact of the bus as it lost control, the vehicle filled with middle and high school students purportedly went airborne, spinning around 180 degrees, ultimately landing on its side.
Some parents of passengers on that bus credit that pole for reducing the devastation that may have occurred, as about 20 feet beyond it, down an approximately 30 foot descent, is the shallow and rocky Gunpowder River. The utility pole is credited for stopping the bus’s entrance into the river, and preventing its careening down a rocky decline to get there.
Gunpowder River at York Road bridge, Parkton
The pole created an endpoint for the bus’s trajectory, literally turning it around.
And now it is being sued.
Well, BGE is a considered a defendant.
Order for Interpleader:
Plaintiff: The Board of Education of Baltimore County
Defendant: Baltimore Gas and Electric
Plaintiffs, the Board of Education of Baltimore County and the Maryland Associations of Boards of Education Group Insurance Pool (“MABE Pool”), have filed a Complaint for Interpleader, pursuant to Maryland Rule 2–221 – arising out of a school bus accident that occurred on April 6, 2016 in Baltimore County (the “Occurrence”), involving a vehicle owned by the BOE and driven by BOE employee…”
Filed on May 26, 2017 with Julie L. Ensor, Clerk of the Circuit Court, the case will be heard in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County in the County Courts Building. Its case number is 03-C-17-005154 OC: Board of Education of Baltimore County, et al vs. Baltimore Gas and Electric Company.
The date of the proceeding is not yet known.
In an effort to control potential lawsuits related to accidents and their possible monetary awards, the school system is using a legal peculiarity called an interpleader which is a proceeding requested in order to provide equitable remedies as a way to compel the court to enforce rights when the party at fault is faced with a legal dilemma. Potential defendants sometimes use an interpleader proceeding as a preemptive maneuver, asking the court to either dismiss any potential legal action in advance of being sued, or to eliminate multiple lawsuits over the same accident, in an effort to protect a probable defendant from a potential multipleliability.
Also being summoned, and listed as defendants, are the students involved in the accident.
“You are hereby summoned to file a written response by pleading or motion within 30 days after service of the summons upon you, and this court, to the attached Complaint filed by: Board of Education of Baltimore County. Failure to file a response within the time allotted may result in a judgment by default or the granting of the relief sought against you.”
The Post intends to follow this story and its proceedings.
Update: For more information on MABE’s Liability Limits, see this link:
Due to scheduled maintenance, the Maryland Case Search website is experiencing an outage, spanning Friday, June 9, 2017 at 4 pm until Monday, June 12 at 6 am.