A second family has filed a lawsuit against Johnthony Walker and Durham School Services, saying their 9-year-old child is permanently disfigured because of the negligence that caused last week’s crash.
The lawsuit, filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court, coincides Walker’s first court appearance today for his criminal charges. He faces six counts of vehicular homicide and one count each of reckless endangerment and reckless driving in connection with last week’s accident on Talley Road. Six children died from the crash and many more were injured, police said.
Durham, his employer and major provider of several Hamilton County school buses, has said it will pay medical bills and funeral arrangements.
In this case, attorneys wrote, the child “suffered serious psychological and emotional injuries in that crash when he was forced to lie trapped and bleeding in the bus for almost two hours while surrounded by friends and classmates who were similarly injured or killed.”
The child’s family members are seeking damages to pay his medical bills — since the injuries are permanent and disfiguring — and to deter Durham and Walker from this kind of negligence in the future, attorney Everett L. Hixson Jr. wrote in the lawsuit.
Calling for a jury trial, the lawsuit also raised the issue of statutory caps.
In Tennessee, jurors can award no more than $750,000 for “non-economic damages” such as pain and suffering. That’s just one of several claims in this lawsuit.
According to the suit, family members are suffering “severe mental anguish, psychological injury, and emotional distress that has caused and will cause her to incur further medical expenses for herself and her son.”
“The General Assembly, however, has violated Plaintiffs right to a jury trial by arbitrarily determining that ‘non-economic damages’ shall not exceed $750,000,” Hixson wrote. “Plaintiffs contend such an artificial limitation on their pain and suffering is an unconstitutional interference.”