Archive for Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jury selected in trial over bus fatality

Officers from the Lawrence Police Department investigate the scene of an injury accident at 15th and Iowa streets involving the Cat Tracker bus. John Green was fatally injured and another seriously injured in the accident on Saturday, November 18, 2006.

Officers from the Lawrence Police Department investigate the scene of an injury accident at 15th and Iowa streets involving the Cat Tracker bus. John Green was fatally injured and another seriously injured in the accident on Saturday, November 18, 2006.

July 6, 2010, 1:43 p.m. Updated July 7, 2010, 2:41 a.m.


Attorneys said it will be a tough task. Twelve jurors and one alternate were selected Tuesday afternoon, after a day of questioning, to hear evidence in the civil trial stemming from the November 2006 fatality accident involving the Cat Tracker fan bus.

Jury selected in Cat Tracker trial

The trial will start tomorrow and is expected to last through next week. Enlarge video

Samantha Green, the widow of John Green, filed the lawsuit on behalf of her husband who was killed when he was standing atop the double-decker bus and struck the overpass at Irving Hill Road and Iowa Street.

Another man was critically injured but survived.

The plaintiff is claiming Briggs Auto Group of Manhattan is responsible for putting an unsafe vehicle on the road.

Court documents filed in the case indicate that Briggs purchased a yellow school bus in 2003 and modified the vehicle into the Cat Tracker II.

Briggs Auto Group did not own the bus at the time of the Nov. 18, 2006, accident, but Samantha Green’s attorney, James Thompson, told potential jurors Tuesday morning that they believe the business was responsible for putting a defective vehicle on the road.

“One of the things we’re claiming is that it wasn’t right,” Thompson said. “It was defective in the design, construction, modification and sale.”

Thompson spent much of Tuesday questioning potential jurors about their knowledge of the accident and whether they know any of the parties involved in the wrongful death suit.

Several prospective jurors admitted they had driven by the accident scene the morning of the Kansas University-Kansas State football game. One woman admitted she had seen the bus prior to the accident and thought “it didn’t look quite right.”

Terry Iles, attorney for the defendant, said Briggs Auto Group gave the bus away as a birthday gift on Aug. 17, 2003, to Manhattan attorney Robert Pottroff, before the vehicle ever underwent any modifications.

“We believe that the Briggs organization was not involved in the manufacture or the design of this bus,” Iles said.

Originally, there were close to a dozen defendants listed in the case, including Pottroff, as well as another plaintiff, Christian Orr, the man injured in the accident.

All other parties have reached out-of-court settlements, which are sealed as part of the court file.

Thompson told prospective jurors they are seeking a “substantial” amount of damages in the case, including compensation for the Greens’ daughter, who was born after the accident.

“There is a value to the counsel, guidance and instruction that a father gives a child,” Thompson said. “We will be seeking that.”

They are not seeking punitive damages.

Testimony in the case is scheduled to begin this morning.


nonbeliverofprint 7 years, 11 months ago

OMG! Is she for real??? Because the idiot was probably drunk and standing on the roof of a moving is that the fault of the auto sales company. I'm sorry to the widow for her loss but the blame needs to be put on John for his actions and the driver of the bus. They should not of moved knowing there were people on top.

beim 7 years, 11 months ago

You don't need to call him an idiot, he's dead forever and people who knew him are probably reading your disrespectful comment. We know how smart you are, just be respectful.

nonbeliverofprint 7 years, 11 months ago

Notice I said "probably" drunk. Like I said I'm sorry she lost her husband and if I'm heartless I don't care what you think...if he was smart - he wouldn't have been standing on top of a moving bus...Hey look here comes a you think I could pass right through it. Be real people. He did it to himself. It wasn't an accident he was up there. He wasn't forced to stand up.

hail2oldku 7 years, 11 months ago

Fact 1 - deceased was standing on the outside of a moving vehicle, unless he was a firefighter or garbageman that's not a wise move.

Fact 2 - said moving vehicle, even without the modifications, is taller than the normal passenger vehicle. Standing on top of said taller vehicle is going to put you in precarious positions that may be dangerous to your health and well being. Again, not a wise move.

Fact 3 - passengers riding atop said moving vehicle were willfully and recklessly fooling around in traffic not too many minutes earlier in the day from the time of this wreck. I personally observed members of the group on top of the bus hanging from the stop lights at 23rd and Iowa as the bus was waiting for traffic flow to begin moving up the hill. I will not claim that the deceased was one of those people hanging on the lights, but it was people near the back that were doing it.

Still boils down to personal responsibility to me, and we sure seem to have a lot of people unwilling to accept the consequences of their own actions.

slowplay 7 years, 11 months ago

Don't forget the bus was modified so that the roof could be used for seating. It looks like everyone involved was sued and the Briggs Auto Group was the only one NOT to settle out of court.

tlraz 7 years, 11 months ago

I am sorry for the family's loss, but I think it's wrong to sue the previous owner of the bus. I wonder if the current owner has no $.

yankeelady 7 years, 11 months ago

I don't mean to seem insensitive, but why would anyone think it safe to stand on the roof of a moving vehicle? We have seat belt laws for a reason. The actions of these folks went way beyond common sense.

Uhjh 7 years, 11 months ago

There seems to have been numerous violations concerning the vehicle and the driver. I never read of any charges made. Where any traffic violations issued?

ksjayhawk74 7 years, 11 months ago

Yes, it's not a good idea to stand on top of a bus while drinking. However, the maker of the vehicle should be sued. They made a dangerous bus that got 1 person killed and 1 seriously injured. Those people would not have been able to be hurt or killed if Briggs would have taken the right safety measures.

It's a miracle that more people weren't killed.

Kash_Encarri 7 years, 11 months ago

"Those people would not have been able to be hurt or killed if Briggs would have taken the right safety measures."


Not to speak poorly of the dead, and less than intelligent, but who is to say these two yahoos wouldn't have been riding on something else that day and gotten in an accident, or fallen out of the back of a pick-up or something similar. Sorry, but natural selection was in effect here. Even sober, standing on the top of that bus while moving would have been dumb. IMHO, the only person responsible outside of the dead guy and those injured is the bus driver who allowed them up there while it was moving and possibly the person that hired a bus driver that was that stupid.

thebigspoon 7 years, 11 months ago

So the survivors of everyone who dies in an accident should sue because the right safety measures weren't taken ? Wow, I hope that you won't be on the jury...

geekyhost 7 years, 11 months ago

Yes -- if the accident is caused, in part, by unsafe and/or illegal modifications of a vehicle. That's how businesses are motivated to not do anything so stupid in the future. Clearly they weren't the only people doing something stupid in this situation, but my understanding is that juries hash out the percentage of culpability in cases like this.

thebigspoon 7 years, 11 months ago

I am sure this wasn't the first trip this bus made up and down a road. If it was illegally modified then how did it get licensed to drive in the state of Kansas. Sometimes people just have to look in the mirror and take the blame themselves. There were a lot of other people up on that roof that day also. Why didn't just ONE of them see the bridge and say look out ? Maybe all of them should be sued also for negligence ?

geekyhost 7 years, 11 months ago

Nobody is suggesting Briggs is the only party responsible here.

fester0420 7 years, 11 months ago

people on the bus were told not to stand up so its there falt. its like if you get hit crossing the street. you shoulda look both ways you dont blame the road.

Jim Williamson 7 years, 11 months ago

Sorry, but I hope this woman doesn't get a nickel and has to pay Briggs court costs. This woman and her attorney are a symptom of one of the many things that are wrong with our nation today.

Martin Shupert 7 years, 11 months ago

You people remind me of the SNL skits with Dan Ackroyd. He was selling shards of glass for kids to play with. You seriously do not think that someone should anticipate that there just might be people riding up there who have had a few too many??? Come on! A dangerous situation was set in motion way before the accident. Obviously, the bus driver should have treated any bridge as a stop light. But no one even thought about the possibility that the clearence was less than the height of a standing person??? Sorry, but it's a safer world when people who make things actually put a few minutes into imagining how those things might be put into operation. I'm amazed that people blame the victim without bothering to put a little responsibility on the side of those who built and operated a death machine like this.

fester0420 7 years, 11 months ago

they had thought about it thats why thay had a rule. no standing while bus is in motion

geekyhost 7 years, 11 months ago

Did they have a rule that nobody should ride atop that thing while it was in motion? Because that would be a better rule. This could just as easily resulted in one or more deaths if the bus had come to a sudden stop or been in a collision. It's essentially a big pickup truck bed up really high. If you're inside even a modified bus during a collision, you're at least somewhat compartmentalized.

I saw what happens when a pickup truck hits a bump with a bunch of kids and a keg in back. It isn't pretty. But truck makers have clear rules that riding in the back isn't safe or legal, unlike what looks to have happened here.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 11 months ago

As one above said, this is just a symptom of our modern litigation society. This idiot was acting a fool and got himself killed. I hope the court throws this out on the street. Personal responsibility is a rapidly failing concept, and this one is just another example of someone trying to make a big settlement when the county EMT response unit should be remunerated for having to clean up the mess these fools created.

Ray_Finkle 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow. Haha. You must have posted that while I was typing!

Ray_Finkle 7 years, 11 months ago

Lets sue the people who designed the bridge! They should have known that it wasn't tall enough for a double-decker bus with drunks on the roof to drive under it! And what about the guy that invented concrete?! He should have known that it was harder than people's heads!

But really, does this mean that all pickups are inherently dangerous as well? I've seen plenty of people riding in the beds of pickups, not supposed to, but its definitely foreseeable.

Lets just get government mandated helmets and big plastic balls that we can all roll around in. And weekly government fingernail clippings so that nobody accidentally leaves a little jagged edge and scratches themselves.

Personal responsibility. Not all accidents warrant a windfall.

flyin_squirrel 7 years, 11 months ago

Brigg's is a crook, and I hope he loses (although I don't think he should be held accountable). This is only one of at least 4 lawsuits Briggs currently has against him and most of them are not shakey like this one...

William McCauley 7 years, 11 months ago

If this lady wins any award I hope the poor fire fighter in the photo who is sitting with his head hung low and the rest of the people who had to clean up the mess sue her for the mental pain of cleaning it up and they take all the award from the family. One old saying come to mind, "if your going to be stupid, you better be tough!" Any one with any smarts can look at that second floor height and know there is not enough room to clear a bridge if your standing up there, just look at the chicken light placement by the railing. Most semi trailers are 13.6 tall and I bet that buses second floor is damn close to that as well, most bridges are not much more then 13.6 too, it's not rocket science to figuare out here people. I bet her lawyer is an ambulance chasing scumbag.

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