Auto Dealer L.A. Truck Centers Cleared in Fatal Minibus Crash

Shook, Hardy & Bacon secured a victory for its client, L.A. Truck Centers LLC, in a two-week trial stemming from a tour bus crash in 2010 where eight were injured and two died. On Monday, April 27, the jury returned a 10-2 defense verdict in favor of L.A. Truck Centers, saving the company a potential $58 million wrongful death payout.

In October 2010, a group from China was touring the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon when their bus driver took a turn too quickly and rolled over. Because there were no seatbelts available on the tour bus, seven of the 10 passengers who were not wearing seatbelts were flung through the windows. The plaintiff’s attorney alleged that the injuries were more serious because the bus dealer did not have seatbelts installed and that the bus dealer was at fault.

L.A. Truck Centers maintained that the tour company and its driver were to blame. During closing arguments, Orange County Managing Partner Doug Robinson pointed out that the tour group operator, TBE International Inc., specifically requested a bus without seatbelts to save money and that the defendant cannot be held liable for selling a vehicle requested by the customer that meets the federal government’s safety requirements.

The plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury to award more than $58 million in damages to the eight passengers who suffered injuries, including amputations and brain injuries, and the estates of two passengers killed in the crash.

The trial team was led by Robinson, Orange County Partner Janet Hickson and Orange County Associate Gabriel Spooner. The case is Chen v. LA Truck Ctrs. LLC, case number BC469935, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles.

Law360 provides additional coverage on the trial.