On the day jury selection was to begin in a wrongful death lawsuit in the case of a 16-year-old St. Joseph boy who died when he was hit by a school bus , a multi-million dollar settlement was reached.
Mason Adams was s truck by a First Student Inc., school bus on Nov. 15, 2010 when walking to school. He was about three-tenths of a mile from Lafayette High School, where he was a junior.
Mason's mother filed the wrongful death lawsuit against First Student and the bus driver, and were awarded a $5 million judgment on Monday.
In First Student taking responsibility for Mason's death, his mother, Bridget Blasi, got what she really wanted, according to an email from her attorney.
Blasi spoke with 41 Action News Reporter Beth Vaughn in front of the Buchanan County Courthouse. She said, "I had been waiting on an apology. I had been waiting on them to say 'We're responsible for your son's death.' Today, they finally said that."
Blasi is hoping to use the settlement money to build a baseball park in St. Joseph and to continue a scholarship fund in Mason’s name.
She explained tearfully, "Mason was #24. He was a competitive baseball player and he loved baseball."
Blasi imagined what Mason might say to her now, saying, "You did it Mom. You fought for me and for what’s right and I’m so proud of you.”
We did some checking, and the St. Joseph School District pays First Student about three million dollars per year for its service. The company owns 60,000 buses nation-wide that is uses in 42 states.
Video was released for the first time Monday showing the bus driver, Tracey Jones, entering a fogged and frosted bus. The video shows Jones leaving the bus barn before clearing the windows. Shortly thereafter, Adams was struck and killed.
Attorney Michael Kuckelman explained what he's argued for the past year, "A bus driver driving a 26,000 pound bus down the streets of St. Joseph with frost or dew on the windows, when she can’t see out, is like a 26,000 pound missile going down St. Joseph Avenue.”
He continued, "I think the amount of the settlement speaks volumes to how bad the case was."
The St. Joseph School District tells 41 Action News it's undecided if First Student will provide its transportation next year. The district is in the midst of a bidding process that is slated to end next week.
First Student refused to comment on the settlement.
Read more: http://www.nbcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_missouri/5-million-settlement-reached-in-fatal-St-Joseph-school-bus-wreck#ixzz1lewML7PZ