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City Pays $1.2 Million in Blue Bus Settlement

By Lookout Staff

March 5 -- The City Council approved $1.3 million last week to settle a lawsuit with the husband of a woman fatally struck by a Big Blue Bus.

The wrongful death suit was filed by Oscar Saenz, whose wife, Maria Carrera, 47, was struck and killed in a crosswalk on Ocean Avenue and Pico Boulevard by a bus on August 29, 2005.

Carrera was reportedly on her way to work as a housekeeper when bus driver Consuela de Jesus Orantes stopped at a red light and allowed pedestrians to cross, before making a right turn onto Ocean Avenue, according to the court report of the complaint.

After hearing a sound similar to breaking glass, the driver got off the bus to check what had happened and found Carrera’s body beneath the front, driver’s-side wheel, according to the report.

The settlement in the case -- approved by the council in closed session last Tuesday -- is the second large payout in a year stemming from accidents involving the City’s bus service.

Last March, Santa Monica was ordered by a jury to pay nearly $2 million to Haroun Mehdipour and his wife after a bus accident resulted in Mehdipour, also a pedestrian, losing his arm.

Mehdipour survived and sued the City for $12 million in damages and current and future medical bills, but the jury found him 25 percent at fault and reduced the original award of $2.6 million by a quarter to $1.989 million.

According to trial testimony, Mehdipour lost his arm as he tried to get the driver’s attention as the bus left the stop at Barrington Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles.

The plaintiffs attorneys charged the City and its bus line with negligence, negligent hiring and negligent supervision, among other claims, arguing that the elderly man was walking alongside the bus toward the front door, "clearly in view of the driver's mirror," trying to get the driver's attention.

The City's attorneys argued that, instead of the driver, it was Mehdipour who was negligent for chasing the bus after it was moving.







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