A jury awarded $2.25 million to three of the victims and their families.
For the fourth time in as many weeks, Seeger Weiss delivered a decisive trial victory for its clients, this time on behalf of families of the Windsor Wildcats, an “under 21” female hockey team who suffered a tragic bus accident in 2005. A jury awarded $2.25 million to three of the victims and their families, who were represented by partners Moshe Horn and Marc Albert.
In January, 2005, the Wildcats booked a charter bus trip with Coach Canada that would take them from their hometown of Windsor, Ontario into Rochester, New York to play in a hockey tournament and to go skiing. The trip was assigned by Coach Canada to Ryan Comfort, a 24 year old inexperienced driver who had only started working for the company the month before.
After driving through the night and watching the Wildcats hockey game from the stands instead of getting much needed rest, Comfort boarded the bus at approximately 4:00 p.m. to take the team on an approximate 1 hour and 20 minute drive up to Swain Ski Hill. Less than 45 minutes later, an exhausted Comfort veered off of the roadway and struck a parked tractor trailer on the shoulder of Interstate 390, near Geneseo, New York. The heavy impact literally split the bus in half, killing four and severely injuring nineteen others. Among the tragic fatalities were the Wildcats’ coach Rick Edwards, his 13 year old son Brian and Cathy Roach, the mother of one of the team’s players, Erin Roach.
Over the course of more than four years, Chris Seeger, Marc Albert, Moshe Horn, TerriAnne Benedetto and James O’Brien engaged in an exhaustive discovery process, which included the review of thousands of pages of documents and more than twenty depositions. Through this discovery, Seeger Weiss procured considerable evidence that showed failures on the part of bus company in the hiring, training and supervision of Mr. Comfort. These failures were inexcusable given the 24 year old Comfort’s lack of driving experience.
In June 2009, the defendants came to an agreement on a liability split that would ensure that 100% of the plaintiffs’ damages would be accounted for. Coach Canada and its related entities agreed to accept 90% of the liability for the accident with J&J Hauling, the owner of the tractor-trailer agreeing to accept the remaining 10% of the liability. “Admission of liability in this first phase of trial by the defendants was a significant development toward the resolution of years of litigation,” lead trial attorney Chris Seeger said.
Seeger Weiss represents a total of eleven victims of the accident and their families. The damages trials for the remaining eight plaintiffs, during which juries will be asked to determine fair compensation for the catastrophic and in some cases fatal injuries suffered by each of the individual victims, will occur in the coming months. After today’s victory, Mr. Horn and Mr. Albert looked confidently forward to the remaining trials. “These were among the less serious of the injuries suffered among our clients” said Mr. Horn. “This is a tremendous result.”