Ruth denies summary judgment to First Student in assault cse

Amelia Flood Feb. 22, 2011, 5:31am


Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth has found that a bus company asking for summary judgment in a suit brought by aparent whose child was assaulted by classmates failed to prove its case.

Ruth denied defendant Laidlaw Transit Inc.'s motion for summary judgment on Feb. 14.

In his order, Ruth denied the motion on the basis that the company – now known as First Student Inc. – did not cite cases that proved why it had immunity under Illinois school code law.

Plaintiff Jane Doe is suing Laidlaw for damages in excess of $150,000.

A case management conference is also set in the suit for Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The plaintiff claims that one of the company's drivers did not adequately supervise students on a bus departing from a Collinsville school.

As the plaintiff's daughter left the bus, Jane Doe claims she was assaulted and fondled by other students. This led her to allegedly suffer from emotional and mental distress.

The Collinsville school district was a defendant in the case at one time. It was dismissed from the suit in 2010.

In its motion seeking summary judgment, First Student alleged that it was not liable for a third-party attack that happened after Jane Doe's daughter left its bus.

The company also argued that it could not be sued under the school code as independent contractors of a school district.

Ruth wrote in his Feb. 14 order that the court was unable to find cases bearing out First Student's arguments about the immunity issue.

He also noted that he believed the issue of whether or not the assault was foreseeable was a matter for a jury.

John Hustava represents Jane Doe.

Thomas Magee represents First Student.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-679.

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