Lawsuits take aim at an Oregon transit agency

The families two of slain victims -- along with three survivors -- recently brought forth civil litigation against a transit agency whose employee mowed pedestrians down in a bus in 2010.

The five pedestrians were struck in April 2010 within the Old Town area of Portland. The driver, who was employed by Oregon's largest transit agency TriMet, executed an illegal left turn directly into the crowd of pedestrians. The pedestrians were using a crosswalk after leaving a local comedy club.

The accident pinned two women, ages 22 and 26, underneath the bus where they died from their injuries. Two other men and a woman were struck by the bus but survived.

Now, the victims are suing TriMet and the driver responsible for the accident for damages. The lawsuit stated that the woman behind the wheel of the bus was incredibly negligent in her actions. However, in addition to the driver's negligence the suit also states that the woman interfered with the victims' pedestrians' rights; citing a violation of their 4th and 14th amendment rights.

Adding insult to injury, the group is also outraged by the fact that the driver has been allowed to get behind the wheel once again. While the woman was promptly fired following an investigation into the accident, she was issued a commercial license in 2011, allowing her to operate a passenger vehicle that can carry more than 15 people.

Her commercial license was taken away in Washington, her state of permanent residency. However, according to Oregon law, a commercial driver does not automatically lose his or her commercial license due to careless driving charges.

The driver heaps the blame on TriMet, saying that it does not provide appropriate safety training to drivers. Neither TriMet, nor the driver, commented on the pending litigation.

Source: OregonLive.com, "Families of women killed by TriMet bus in April 2012 file suits in federal court," Joseph Rose, April 20, 2012

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