Pupil Transportation Cooperative Admits Liability In Death Of Special Needs Student Left On Whittier School Bus

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Five months after the death of  Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, an autistic student left aboard a Whittier school bus parked at the Pupil Transportation Cooperative bus depot during one of the hottest days of the year, the bus company has conceded liability in his death. Panish Shea & Boyle LLP represents the Lee family in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against both Pupil Transportation Cooperative and the Whittier Unified School District.

On February 9, 2016,  Pupil Transportation Cooperative (PTC) admitted in discovery that the conduct of its driver was a cause of Paul Lee’s death and that the bus company is vicariously liable. The PTC also noted that the Whittier School District knew of the special needs student’s limitations and shared in the responsibility of his death.

“They needed to receive him at the bus stop,” PSB attorney Rahul Ravipudi told ABC7.

Tragically, Paul never got off the bus on September 11, 2015 and nobody even noticed – except his mother. When he didn’t return home from school, she called the Whittier School District who in turn called Pupil Transportation Cooperation. It was their driver who discovered Paul’s lifeless body on the bus.

Inspired to act following the circumstances surrounding Paul’s death, Senator Tony Mendoza proposed state legislation on Tuesday that would aid in preventing another school bus tragedy.

Senate Bill 1072 would mandate all school buses in California be equipped with child-safety alarm systems. When the bus ignition is turned off, the system would emit an audible alarm that requires the driver to walk to the back of the bus to turn it off.

“California should join other states that require child safety alarm systems on school buses,” Mendoza writes on his website. “It is vital that we do everything we can to protect the many thousands of children transported daily to and from school.”

Read the ABC7 story here.

Read more about Senator Tony Mendoza’s bill here.