A Riverside County Superior Court jury has awarded $1,260,000 to the adult children of a 91-year-old man who was killed in a tour bus crash. The plaintiffs were represented at trial by Deborah Chang, Thomas Schultz, John Shaller and Austin Ward of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP.
On the afternoon of December 19, 2013, decedent Khang Van Tieu and 20 passengers were traveling northbound on Interstate 15 aboard a Sina International Inc. tour bus driven by defendant Jian Fehn Duan, en route to Westminster, California from Pala Casino Spa Resort in San Diego County. The highway was wet due to periodic, heavy rainfall and visibility was limited to three-miles. At approximately 2:30 p.m., Mr. Duan applied the brakes to slow the bus but because he was driving at an excessive speed for the roadway conditions, there was not enough traction and the vehicle began to spin out of control before hitting a guardrail and overturning.
As a result of the tour bush crash, Mr. Duan and 20 other passengers on the bus sustained injuries. Mr. Tieu was transported to Riverside Community Hospital with multiple, severe blunt force trauma injuries, which proved fatal within six hours after the car accident.
An investigation by California Highway Patrol determined the cause of the collision was due to Mr. Duan’s driving at an unsafe speed for roadway conditions because the roadway was wet when Mr. Duan applied the brake, there was not enough traction to safely slow the vehicle and the bus swerved out of control into the dirt shoulder, hit the guardrail and over-turned. No mechanical deficiencies contributed to the collision.
Defendant admitted that Mr. Duan was in the course and scope of his employment with the Defendant Sina International, Inc. at the time of the collision and that his negligent operation of the bus, including travelling at an unsafe speed for the wet roadways, caused the bus to roll-over on the freeway. Defendants later admitted that Mr. Tieu’s death was caused by Defendants’ negligence.
At trial, the defense argued that the man’s life expectancy was signiﬁcantly limited by his advanced age and alleged various medical conditions.
Riverside DA charged the bus driver with Vehicle Manslaughter and he pled guilty to a less charge of Reckless driving to circumvent the penalties.