Case details

Parents: Bus driver failed to properly use restraint system





Result type

Not present

brain, encephalopathy, fracture, leg
On Sept. 13, 2018, plaintiff George Replogle, a minor with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe type of muscular dystrophy, was a wheelchair passenger in a school bus traveling on Poli Street, in Ventura. The bus’s driver stopped short to avoid striking a vehicle, and George was ejected from his wheelchair. He suffered of his legs. George’s parents, Rachel Replogle; and John Replogle, acting individually and on behalf of their son, sued the bus’s operator, Kenna Thomas, and Thomas’ employer, the Ventura Unified School District, of which George was a pupil. The Replogles alleged that Thomas was negligent in his use of the bus’s wheelchair-restraint system and that school district failed to adequately train Thomas. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Thomas failed to appropriately set up and use the school bus’s wheelchair-restraint system. Counsel also contended that the school district failed to provide adequate training to Thomas in the deployment of the restraint system. The plaintiffs’ bus-operations and biomechanical-engineering experts both stated that the bus came was a restraint system that was adjustable at different points of contact to accommodate different wheelchairs and that the system had to be installed each time. The experts also opined that the system appeared to work and that if the driver had deployed the system properly, it would have been impossible for George to come out of his wheelchair when the bus stopped. The school district never admitted liability., George sustained fractures to the femurs in both legs and was immediately taken to a hospital. Since George has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he has been on steroids and using a wheelchair since he was 9 years old. As a result, he had severe osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become more porous and fragile. He also had a high fat content in his thighs. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that as a result, George’s fractures precipitated hundreds of cerebral fat emboli in his thighs. Counsel also contended that the fat embolization resulted in septic shock and static encephalopathy, ultimately leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome. As a result, George was on mechanical ventilation for weeks. He then followed up with more than a year of rehabilitation. George remained in a long-term rehabilitation hospital from the date of the incident until the last week of December 2019. His parents claimed that George will now need at-home attendant care for the rest of his life. George’s parents sought recovery for George’s past and future medical costs, and past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel questioned what damages were related to George coming out of the wheelchair.
Superior Court of Ventura County, Ventura, CA

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