PHILADELPHIA – A pair of lawsuits filed against Greyhound Bus Lines, one of its drivers and its parent company are under consideration for a motion to stay their proceedings, pending a coming state Superior Court decision on the release of privileged attorney-client communications.
On Oct. 9, 2013, the plaintiffs of both suits were passengers aboard a Greyhound bus that departed New York City for Cleveland. According to the lawsuit, when the bus reached I-80 West in Union County, the driver, Sabrina Anderson, operated the bus in a “reckless, negligent and careless” manner that caused a motor vehicle collision.
The bus collided with a tractor-trailer owned by Karoly Gubica and driven by Akos Gubica. The crash caused the death of bus passenger Son Thi Thanh Hoang, a 37-year-old Vietnamese national who was traveling in the United States. Hoang was killed from blunt force trauma to the chest.
In December 2013, representatives of Hoang’s estate and various passengers who had been injured in the crash filed a negligence and wrongful death suit against Greyhound Bus Lines, its parent company FirstGroup America and Anderson, believing Greyhound did not properly train Anderson – who the lawsuit says fell asleep behind the wheel and caused the collision.
The lawsuit also alleged violations of state and federal law on the part of the defendants, including Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations.
A related case, Livingston Et.Al v. Greyhound Bus Lines Et.Al, was filed in April 2014 by more passengers of the same Greyhound bus, against the same defendants and for the same claims. Both Karoly and Akos Gubica, along with CAV Enterprises, were later added as defendants.
Between the two lawsuits, 22 separate plaintiffs are being represented in these actions. The plaintiffs are each individually seeking $50,000 in these cases jointly and severally from all defendants, in addition to compensatory, delay and punitive damages, plus interest and court costs.
On April 14, Judge Mark I. Bernstein, of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, granted a motion from plaintiff counsel to compel the production of documents related to transcripts of emails and telephone calls between Anderson and defense counsel.
The defense immediately appealed that decision to state Superior Court, claiming the release of those documents would constitute a breach of attorney-client privilege, and that such a disclosure in the pending federal court case “before appellate resolution is harmful to the defendants.”
Further, the defense filed a motion to stay proceedings in the current federal court case, as well.
On May 27, Bernstein ordered the defense to file a list of its appeals complaints with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania within three weeks, pursuant to Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure.
The plaintiffs are represented by Jonathan Ostroff, William J. Coppol, David B. Kline and Ryan Jablonski of Ostroff Injury Law in Philadelphia; Ryan Zehl of Fitts Zehl in Houston, Texas; Louis C. Ricciardi in Plymouth Meeting; and Daniel Munley in Scranton.
The defendants are represented by James T. DiMarco in Philadelphia; Thomas R. Hurd of McElroy Deutsch Mulvaney & Carpenter in Philadelphia; Claudia D. McCarron of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith in Wayne; Justin A. Bayer and Paul Troy of Kane Pugh Knoell Troy Kramer in Norristown; and Louis Hockman in Philadelphia
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas cases 131202598 & 140402946
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org