An El Paso County jury has found a Texas bus company liable for a 2005 van accident that killed two people and seriously injured five others. In their decision, the jury awarded the survivors of the crash with $126 million in damages, one of the largest jury monetary awards in the United States this year.
In 2005, a 15-passenger van owned by Autobuses Los Paisanos, Inc., crashed during a snowstorm while taking a number of migrant workers from Mexico to a seasonal job. Teresa Lozano Acevedo and Ascension Ramirez Caraveo were killed in the crash while others were rushed to nearby hospitals after the van ran off of the road, rolled over several times, and struck an overpass.
During the trial, the prosecution established that the van was indeed owned by the El Paso bus company and that the company was negligent in keeping their passengers reasonably safe. The van was not equipped with seat belts, the driver was speeding and driving recklessly for the road conditions, and the van had not been properly maintained after going over 188,000 miles in under two years of service.
“Los Paisanos treated these poor people like cattle,” said a lawyer representing the families of those killed and those injured in the van crash.
The van accident lawyer for the defense, which argued that the van did not belong to the bus company, said that the verdict will be appealed. The jury award is the twelfth largest across the country in 2010.