Pittsburgh lawyer files two cases alleging assault on school buses

By Karen Kidd | Apr 30, 2019

PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh law firm this year filed very similarly worded cases in the same common pleas court against two different school systems on behalf of mothers whose young children were allegedly assaulted on school buses last year.

Attorney James A. Traficante of James A. Traficante & Associates in Pittsburgh put together the two separate cases on behalf of Yvon Denis, mother of Godly Denis, and Ashley Yates, mother of Landon Yates. Both families live in Pittsburgh, according to their complaints filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Ashley Yates signed her 10-page complaint Jan. 28 against Wilkinsburg School District, The Watson Institute, Friendship Academy, and AJ Myers and Sons Inc.

Yvon Denis signed her 10-page complaint Feb. 28 in against Pittsburgh Public Schools, Conroy Education Center, Firstgroup America Inc., and First Student, Inc.

Ashley Yates spoke with a television news station in October shortly after her son, now 11, was brutally beaten on his way to school by another student on the bus in front of the bus aide. Landon Yates, who suffers from autism, later was treated for fractures and bruises to his face.

At the time, Yates demanded that her son's alleged assailant be expelled, according to the television news report. Her lawsuit claims Landon Yates was assaulted "on multiple occasions" prior to the Oct. 10 assault and that defendants in her case "were aware."

Yvon Denis claims that her daughter, now 8 years old, was assaulted Aug. 28 by a minor child on a bus for special needs students. Godly Denis has special needs "due to cognitive impairment," the Denis lawsuit said. She suffered injuries that included severe bruising, lacerations and two broken fingers, according to that lawsuit.

Aside from pertinent information such as who was allegedly assaulted and when, where and what injuries they suffered, much of the two cases are identically worded. For instance, both cases refer to damages the two minor children suffered "as a direct and proximate result of the aforementioned accident" and then refer to four identically worded points about those damages.

Differences between the two cases include Yates' reference to serious injuries as a "result of the negligence, carelessness, and/or recklessness" while Denis references the "aforesaid accident and injuries" were "caused solely and proximately by the carelessness, recklessness and negligence" of defendants."

In another nearly identically worded section, the suit states "As a direct and proximate result of the negligence, carelessness, and/or recklessness of Defendant But, it allowed the Minor to remain in an unsafe environment when it knew or should have know that the Minor was at risk to be harmed by other students on the bus," both cases say."

Additionally, both suits state that both children will need to "expend large sums of money" for further medical treatment, "will in future be unable to enjoy the various pleasures of life" and their "general health, strength and vitality have been impaired."

Another identical phrasing is that, "Minor has endured, and will continue to endure great pain, suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment, mental anguish, monetary expenditures for the care of [his/her] injuries, and emotional and psychological trauma."

Both lawsuits allege multiple and similarly worded counts of negligence and are asking the court for damages in excess of jurisdictional limits of compulsory arbitration, in addition to court costs, interest and such other and further relief the court may deem just and equitable.

Both cases demand jury trials.

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