Court Upholds $9.3M Verdict against Choctaw Nation Following Fatal Bus Crash

The Court of Appeals for Texas’ 5th District unanimously upheld a jury verdict that made the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma liable for $9.3 million of the total $11 million awarded in a wrongful death action resulting from a chartered bus crash in April 2013. The chartered bus was bound for the Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant, Oklahoma when the charter bus ran off the highway in Irving, Texas and killed two elderly casino patrons, Alice Stanley and Paula Hahn.

Many of the issues in the lawsuit revolved around whether Choctaw Nation was liable for the negligence of its bus operators. For example, Sue Taylor organized the group tour on the charter bus and was not employed by Choctaw Nation; nevertheless, she had signed an agreement with the tribe stating she would not distract the bus driver. On the morning of the crash, April 11, 2013, Ms. Taylor had an argument with the driver, Loyd Rieve, about whether to drive on the President George Bush Turnpike. According to the jury, this argument led to the crash and the deaths. The jury found Choctaw Nation liable for negligence, along with Mr. Rieve and the bus company Cardinal.

The Choctaw Nation challenged the ruling on 15 grounds, none of which the appeals court found sufficient. In rejecting the Choctaw Nation’s argument, the Court of Appeals for Texas’ 5th District found that the operation of the bus was not entirely in Cardinal’s control, Mr. Rieve was a borrowed employee of Choctaw Nation, Ms. Taylor was acting as an agent of Choctaw Nation, and Ms. Taylor did interfere with Mr. Rieve’s driving.

While the Choctaw Nation case was in litigation, a charter bus carrying patrons to the casino owned by the Kickapoo tribe was also involved in an accident that resulted in the deaths of nine people and injuries to another forty-three.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of a charter bus or casino, contact an experienced attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.