The family of a California teen who died after suffering a serious traumatic brain injury while on a party bus may now be able to put some of the pain of this tragedy behind them. In a lawsuit filed against the tour operator, a jury recently awarded the family a $26 million judgment, finding the operator responsible for the young man’s death.
Never Recovered from Head Injury
The accident took place on July 10, 2014, during a “sweet sixteen” party held in part on a double-decker bus. Mason Zisette of Manhattan Beach, then sixteen, was attending the rolling party, which had already made several stops and taken a tour of Hollywood.
On its return, the bus entered the 405 freeway and reportedly reached speeds of up to sixty miles per hour. Around 7:25 p.m., Mason was standing on the top deck of the southbound bus looking north when it went beneath an overpass. His head struck the bottom of the overpass. He suffered a severe brain injury and lost consciousness, dying two days later when life support was withdrawn.
Lapses, Poor Judgment, Finger Pointing
Many issues were raised in the case and many allegations were made that ultimately convinced the jury to side with the family. One claim in the case was that the double-decker bus was too high for that stretch of road and never should have been on it. Another was that a parent host of the party, who was present on the bus, had provided alcohol to the teens and encouraged them to drink.
The defense attempted to blame the teen’s death on his own actions, including alcohol consumption, but the jury wasn’t swayed: While it assigned 5 percent of the responsibility of his death to the teen, the hosting parent was found 25 percent responsible, with the remaining 70 percent falling on the bus operator.
During the trial, the bus driver and the tour guide assigned to the bus each claimed that the other was responsible for passenger safety. The tour guide also testified that he had never received safety training and admitted that he was unaware that the upper deck of the bus even had seat belts until after the accident.
History on the Plaintiff’s Side
The bus operator, Starline Tours, could have learned from past experience. Nearly nine months before the Zisette tragedy, a woman suffered skull fractures and permanent vision damage after being struck by a tree branch while riding on the top deck of a Starline bus. The victim in that case won a $3.5 million verdict just over a year before the conclusion of the Zisette trial.
Orange County Brain Injury Lawyer
Head injuries of all kinds can be serious, even when there are few obvious signs of damage. When Mason Zisette was injured, it was reported that those around him thought he had only sustained a bump on the head. Yet the damage to his brain was so severe that he never regained consciousness. Even when not fatal, a traumatic brain injury can cause permanent damage and require an extensive recovery.
If you or someone close to you has sustained a brain injury, contact Dickson Kohan & Bablove, LLP to arrange a free consultation to find out if we can help. Our firm has extensive experience in the practice of brain injury law. Call us at 1-844-404-2400 or contact us online through the form on this page to learn more.