Jury awards $14 million in school bus accident; Judge likely to reduce award to $500K cap
A woman who was hit by a school bus in January 2007 when she was a high school student, was awarded $14 million by a Bucks County, Pa. jury Dec. 5 for pain and suffering that was the result of the accident that occurred outside Pennsbury High School. The victim, 21-year-old Ashley Zauflik, lost her leg and was in a medically induced coma for a month.
The victim’s family filed the lawsuit against Pennsbury School District, asking for at least $3 million in damages from the district, but the district had offered $500,000, the capped amount allowed by Pennsylvania law.
Township officials admitted liability.
It is anticipated that the trial judge will reduce the award to $500,000, the maximum amount established as a damages cap allowed under a 1980 Pennsylvania law that protects municipalities and school districts. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Thomas Kline, says he wants to negotiate a settlement with the district or he will appeal the 1980 cap to the state Supreme Court.
“The school district should — because it's moral, and just, and the right thing to do — step forward and create the funds that would compensate Ashley," Kline was quoted as saying. “I know it's hard times, but ... these are extraordinary circumstances.”