Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Bus leasing company dismissed from lawsuit over deadly Megabus crash

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Dec 12, 2013


Coach Leasing has been dismissed from a lawsuit filed over a fatal Megabus crash that happened last year in Montgomery County.

Plaintiffs Maurine Stellhorn and Francisco Miranda voluntarily dismissed Counts III and VII, which were directed at defendant Coach Leasing Inc., on Nov. 6 through attorney Kevin A. Sullivan of Sauter & Sullivan LLC in St. Louis. Coach Leasing was originally named a defendant because it owned the leased bus involving in the accident.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot granted the dismissal on Nov. 7. All other counts of the complaint remain.

The lawsuit filed in May alleges the plaintiffs were riding in a 2011 Van Hool double-decker bus on Aug. 2, 2012, southbound on I-55 near mile marker 57. The bus allegedly left the road and collided with a concrete bridge support pillar after experiencing an unexpected front tire blowout while traveling along the interstate.

According to media reports, defendant Preston L. Taylor, who was driving the bus, was a 25-year-old rookie whose trainer had accompanied him on the route.  

Defendant Bridgestone America’s Tire Operations (BATO) filed a motion to transfer venue on Oct. 21, which was taken under advisement by Lopinot.

BATO filed a reply supporting its motion to transfer venue on Nov. 12 further arguing that Montgomery County is the proper venue.

Bridgestone argues that St. Clair County is improper because the accident did not occur there.

“Here, there is no dispute that the incident at issue did not take place in St. Clair County,” the reply stated. “The only issue pressed by plaintiffs is whether BATO has demonstrated to their satisfaction that BATO’s county of residence is not St. Clair County.”

BATO says the plaintiffs claim that it did not provide enough evidence proving venue is improper. So the defendant claimed it is headquartered in Tennessee, is a registered agent in Cook County and has no offices or facilities in St. Clair County.

It argues that the plaintiffs “have chosen not to refute that assertion, perhaps because the assertion is irrefutable. Plaintiffs have not sought out or produced any evidence to counter BATO’s, because the evidence clearly shows that BATO does not have an office in St. Clair County.”

John P. Cunningham of Brown & James in Belleville; and Colin Smith, Thomas R. Woodrow and Suzanne E. Rollier of Holland & Knight LLP in Chicago represent Bridgestone.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-269

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Holland & Knight