In a unanimous decision, the Appeals Court agreed with our position that the North Carolina Industrial Commission was wrong when it dismissed our client’s case involving a school bus, and a young child who was killed while crossing a rural highway in the pre-dawn hours to trying to get to his ride.
Sometimes it takes a while, but occasionally the good guys have a good day in Raleigh. Such a day occurred earlier this week when the North Carolina Court of Appeals handed downed a well-reasoned and well-written opinion establishing jurisdiction within the NC Industrial Commission for a case involving a horrible pedestrian accident killing a 7-year old boy while he was trying to cross a rural highway to get to his school bus.
The case is Burns v. Union County Board of Education and it involves the wrongful death case of young Jonathan Beegle, who, as the opinion describes it… “was waiting on the east of Medlin Road in Union County about six to ten feet from the roadway… At approximately 6:50 a.m., the bus… was travelling southbound… As (the child) began to cross the street, a vehicle driven by a third party…was traveling northbound towards the stopped school bus. Before (the child) could reach the bus, he was struck (and) died later that day as a result of the trauma suffered in the accident.”
Just an unspeakably sad and awful loss. (With her permission, I have written in this blog before about the very brave mom who is taking this tragedy as an opportunity to help others cope with their losses.)
Almost two years ago, we filed a claim under the State Torts Claims Act in the North Carolina Industrial Commission, based on a long standing statute giving that body jurisdiction to decide almost all school bus crashes. But we received immediate opposition from the Attorney General’s office that the NCIC lacked any authority to decide the case or render any award to the child’s estate. Basically, because we were upfront in saying we thought the case was more about negligent route design than driver error, the AG took the position that it was beyond the NCIC’s purview.
The Industrial Commission agreed with the Attorney General, but we appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals. In essence, and Judge Robert C. Hunter (along with Judges Calabria and Robert N. Hunter) decided, they were wrong and we were right!
Big kudos to co-counsel SAM MCGEE for crafting an erudite, concise and clever brief that obviously did the trick with the Court!
Like I said, let’s hear it for the good guys!