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Old 11-16-2013, 03:23 PM   #1
Rumors Rocks
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Cited in Disney crash, injured bus driver awarded $970,000

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...bus-bus-driver



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November 15, 2013|By Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel

The driver of a Disney bus whose legs were crushed in a wreck near Epcot was awarded nearly $1 million today by an Orange County jury.

"It means the world to him," lawyer Sean Domnick said of his client, Jean Valentin. "This will help provide a foundation for his future."

Valentin, 47, a Disney driver for 10 years, was critically injured March 23, 2010, when his bus slammed into the back of an empty tour bus that had stopped on Epcot Center Drive. The Florida Highway Patrol ticketed Valentin for careless driving, but Domnick persuaded jurors that the other driver, Deborah Martin, should not have stopped in the middle of the road.

"It was crazy for her to stop in a moving lane of traffic for no good reason," he said.

Martin, who was outside the bus at the time of the collision and not injured, testified she stopped in the road because she had detected a possible mechanical problem with the vehicle.

Domnick said she should have continued into a Disney parking lot and then pulled off to the side of the road to check on it.

Walter Ketcham, lawyer for Martin and the bus company, Mears Destination Services, did not return calls for comment.

The crash occurred about 2:30 p.m. near a parking toll plaza at the theme park. Seven passengers also were injured in the crash, none seriously. An FHP spokeswoman said the bus was traveling about 35 mph at the time of the crash.

After listening to seven days of testimony and deliberating for three days, the jury awarded Valentin $970,000 for his injuries, although it also found him partly to blame for the crash. Attorney fees will be paid from the award, said Domnick, a principal in the Palm Beach Gardens firm of Domnick & Shevin.

A married father of two teenage boys, Valentin has been unable to work since the crash. He moved to the U.S. from Haiti about 20 years ago.

Shudak@tribune.com or 407-650-6361
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Old 11-17-2013, 07:44 AM   #2
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How could he not see a bus stopped in the middle of the road? If the driver was out of the bus, it must have been stopped for a while. Last I checked, if you hit someone from behind it is your fault. Maybe traffic was flowing and he had a bus in front of him which was able to quickly move left or right to avoid the stationary buss. Then he could have been stuck in the lane with very little warning of the stationary bus. That must be it.

I am surprised the passengers are not making a fuss yet-- Dis must have taken care of them immediately.
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Old 11-17-2013, 01:18 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by beer dave View Post
How could he not see a bus stopped in the middle of the road? If the driver was out of the bus, it must have been stopped for a while. Last I checked, if you hit someone from behind it is your fault. Maybe traffic was flowing and he had a bus in front of him which was able to quickly move left or right to avoid the stationary buss. Then he could have been stuck in the lane with very little warning of the stationary bus. That must be it.

I am surprised the passengers are not making a fuss yet-- Dis must have taken care of them immediately.
Old school of thought. No longer is it automatic that someone hits you from behind they are at fault. 40 plus years ago yes, today not.
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Old 11-17-2013, 05:09 PM   #4
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Old school of thought. No longer is it automatic that someone hits you from behind they are at fault. 40 plus years ago yes, today not.

And, we wonder why lawyers have such a well-deserved reputation as pond scum.

NOTE: For full disclosure, I have a JD, but do not practice law.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:38 AM   #5
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I am surprised he won. The passengers stated they saw the bus he should have also. Here is a little more info from the time of the accident... I am sure Mears will appeal. Does Disney own or just contract to Mears?

http://www.justicenewsflash.com/2010...004013865.html
Quote:
Legal News for Florida Bus Accident Attorneys.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers charged a Disney bus driver after a bus crash injured eight people, including himself.

FHP officials charged a Walt Disney World bus driver with regard to a bus crash that caused the driver and seven passengers to suffer injuries.

Lake Buena Vista, FLThe driver of a Walt Disney World transport bus was cited in connection with a March 23, 2010 bus crash that caused a total of eight people to suffer injuries. The accident occurred at the Epcot Centers toll plaza, according to information provided by WESH.com on Tuesday, March 30, 2010, as well as previous reports by Justice News Flash.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) troopers reported a Walt Disney World bus smashed into the back of a charter bus near the entrance to Epcot in Orlando, Florida. While the charter bus was allegedly vacant at the time of the crash, the driver of the Disney bus, as well as seven passengers, suffered injuries. The driver, identified as Jean Valentin, had to be extricated from the bus after he became stuck under the steering wheel. He was then transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center to be treated for the serious injuries he suffered in the accident. The seven hurt bus riders were taken to Florida Hospital-Celebration Health so medical professionals could treat them for the minor injuries they sustained in the collision.

According to updated reports, the driver of the charter bus, a contractor for Mears Transportation, was apparently parked in the through lane and in the midst of conducting a safety inspection when the bus was rear-ended. Accident investigators reportedly alleged the charter bus drivers decision to park in the through lane to perform the safety check contributed to the crash. According to FHP authorities that charged Valentin for careless driving, For failure to see the bus stopped, and passengers on the bus did indicate to troopers that they did notice the bus stopped, he has to use due care. He failed to stop and ran into the back of the bus. Investigations continue.

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan- Legal News for Florida Bus Accident Lawyers.
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Old 11-18-2013, 04:23 PM   #6
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The Mears driver was wrong to stop in a travel lane like she did. You are to inspect before starting your trip. Every place I drove for it was get out of traffic on the shoulder as it was safer then stopping in a travel lane. If state dot or fhp stops you for a inspection they will have you on the shoulder not in a travel lane. As for the Disney driver he was wrong also seeing he rear ended the coach. They way I look at it the mears driver screwed up by stopping in a unsafe place and the disney driver not paying attention screwed up by rear ending her.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:06 PM   #7
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"It means the world to him," lawyer Sean Domnick said of his client, Jean Valentin. "This will help provide a foundation for his future."

Attorney fees will be paid from the award, said Domnick, a principal in the Palm Beach Gardens firm of Domnick & Shevin.
Yes. A foundation for his future. After the attorney's take their 50-70% cut of the award....
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by manning View Post
Old school of thought. No longer is it automatic that someone hits you from behind they are at fault. 40 plus years ago yes, today not.
not so according to a judge in sarasota county about 2 years ago. He was really clear that a rear end collision is the fault of the driver in the rear.
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Old 11-19-2013, 05:02 PM   #9
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I do not agree with the following reasoning: The driver in the rear would be totally at fault if the driver in front stopped suddenly to avoid a collision but, after stopping, the driver in front must immediately move on and out of the way if that is at all possible without causing another collision. Otherwise the driver in front would get some of the blame if hit from behind.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:14 PM   #10
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I do not agree with the following reasoning: The driver in the rear would be totally at fault if the driver in front stopped suddenly to avoid a collision but, after stopping, the driver in front must immediately move on and out of the way if that is at all possible without causing another collision. Otherwise the driver in front would get some of the blame if hit from behind.
It's not my opinion-- it is the law as it was dictated to me by a florida judge.
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Old 11-20-2013, 03:59 PM   #11
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It's also not clear to me who is paying the settlement... Mears, Disney or us taxpayers?
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Old 11-21-2013, 07:32 PM   #12
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If the Mears bus driver was found to be at fault, it would probably be Mears insurance company paying, although they will likely appeal the decision. Definitely not taxpayer money.
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:45 PM   #13
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If the Mears bus driver was found to be at fault, it would probably be Mears insurance company paying, although they will likely appeal the decision. Definitely not taxpayer money.
right...except then the cost of Mears liability insurance goes up because of this ridiculous reward and guess who ends up paying the tab? taxpayers who visit Disney and use Mears as the costs will be passed onto them...
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:53 PM   #14
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It's also not clear to me who is paying the settlement... Mears, Disney or us taxpayers?

In what world would taxpayers pay a civil suit in which the government was not named the defendant?

This is ridiculous. Something is wrong that this guy didn't see a bus stopped in front of him and hit it doing 35mph. If it had been a fallen tree, it wouldn't have been the tree's fault. I hope Mears appeals and wins.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:35 PM   #15
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The Mears driver was wrong to stop in a travel lane like she did. You are to inspect before starting your trip. Every place I drove for it was get out of traffic on the shoulder as it was safer then stopping in a travel lane. If state dot or fhp stops you for a inspection they will have you on the shoulder not in a travel lane. As for the Disney driver he was wrong also seeing he rear ended the coach. They way I look at it the mears driver screwed up by stopping in a unsafe place and the disney driver not paying attention screwed up by rear ending her.

there are NO SHOULDERS on much of the Disney roads. The lawn next to the roads look very sandy to me (I'm not from Florida so that's probably normal). I've often noticed and wondered what he hec i would do IN A CAR if i had to leave the road. Would i get stuck in the sand. where the epcot road connects up to the magic kingdom road there's a noticable embankment. I might be fine but if i was driving a bus I'd worry that pulling off ON TO THE LAWN would eitehr get me stuck of flip the bus.

I've seen buses and cars just stop in the travel lanes, i assume because of this, but cant' recall anyone on the lawn broke down.

Probably Disney, RCID, and the County will be sued next by Meer's insurance for not providing an appropriate shoulder. Everyone's ticket prices will go up while Disney embarks on a 5 year multi million dollar plan to rebuild all the roads with shoulders.
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