July 16, 2020 – Los Angeles, California – – The national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman filed a lawsuit today against Greyhound Lines on behalf of four passengers who sustained injuries after a mentally unstable passenger pulled out a gun and opened fire on a Greyhound bus traveling through central California.
Attorneys Ronald L. M. Goldman and Clay Robbins III filed the Greyhound bus lawsuit in Kern County Superior Court on behalf of plaintiffs Sarah Crist, Mark Grabban, Yashirah Foy, and Efrain Zabaleta Lopez, Sr. The case number is BCV-20-101648.
The complaint accuses defendants Greyhound Lines Inc. of Dallas, Texas, and sister company First Group America Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, of negligence for allowing a belligerent man with a loaded firearm to board a Greyhound bus transporting dozens of passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The assailant opened fire on the bus, killing one person and injuring many others, including the plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs Recount Horror of Greyhound Bus Shooting
The events described below are plaintiffs’ allegations only; there has been not yet been a determination of liability in this matter:
Just before midnight on Feb. 2, 2020, 42 passengers boarded a Greyhound bus at Union Station in Los Angeles for a trip with scheduled stops in Avenal and Oakland before reaching the final destination of San Francisco. The only Greyhound official on this trip to detect, prevent, protect, and act upon reasonably foreseeable dangers and threats to the passengers before they boarded and while they were on the bus was the driver.
Among the passengers to board the bus was the assailant who, according to the plaintiffs, “exhibited behavior indicative that he was either mentally unstable and/or under the influence of intoxicants.” Despite the aberrant behavior, the assailant boarded the bus in possession of a loaded firearm. He was not questioned before he boarded the bus or after its departure, he was not assessed for possible intoxication or violent mental illness, and his person or his luggage were not checked for weapons. There was no adequate security check of passengers prior to boarding the bus.
At around 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 3, while traveling through Kern County, the assailant, whose aggressive behavior had continued to escalate unabated, stood up in a pitch-black bus and shouted a series of expletives before he pulled out a handgun from inside his jacket and began firing wildly. Numerous shots rang out within the bus (perhaps as many as 9 or 10), and yet the bus driver continued to drive.
Passengers were screaming, fearing for their lives, diving for the floor. The flashes of gunfire could be seen throughout the bus. A woman seated next to Ms. Foy was hit in the chest by one or more of the assailant’s bullets. Ms. Foy grabbed the woman close to her in an effort to protect her and render aid.
Toward the back of the bus where the assailant was shooting, Mr. Grabban and Ms. Crist ducked behind the seat in front of them, holding each other for solace and protection. Both saw that individuals to the right of them and in front of them had been struck by more of the assailant’s bullets. They were convinced they were next. Elsewhere on the bus, Mr. Lopez was sitting with his friend and compatriot from Colombia, Lurbis Elena Vence. Both ducked for cover, but not soon enough. Ms. Vence was hit by one or more of the assailant’s bullets. Mr. Lopez could only hold his friend in his arms and attempt to comfort her. His friend and traveling companion died in his arms.
Even after the assailant fired several rounds at passengers, the Greyhound driver appeared to remain totally unaware of, and was certainly unresponsive to, what was occurring. He continued driving the bus as if nothing had happened, eventually pulling over onto the Interstate shoulder because he allegedly believed the gunshot sounds had come from the bus’s engine.
According to the plaintiffs, other passengers managed to disarm and eject the assailant from the bus, and it was only after the traumatized passengers screamed at the driver to drive away that he finally appeared to realize the situation and acted to transport the passengers away from the danger presented by the now-ejected assailant.
Lawsuit Alleges Greyhound Has Failed to Address the Risk of Violent Assaults Despite Decades of Incidents
Assaults on Greyhound buses in transit happen virtually every month on routes across North America, placing Greyhound’s passengers, as well as the motorists utilizing the highways of this nation, at substantial risk of serious harm. Over the last two decades, Greyhound has appeared as a defendant and paid millions of dollars in settlements and judgments in numerous lawsuits stemming from criminal violence that has repeatedly occurred on its buses.
According to the complaint, the Greyhound shooting that preceded the lawsuit filed today is another tragic incident that could have been prevented if Greyhound had implemented well-known and accepted methods to provide their passengers with the safety and security from criminal attack to which they are entitled.
“I have litigated two other cases similar to this against Greyhound in the past, and their stance on pre-board screening and other passenger safety mechanisms has not changed much, if at all.” said attorney Clay Robbins III, a Baum Hedlund lawyer with decades of experience handling personal injury and wrongful death cases against commercial transportation companies.
“Greyhound could and should employ an onboard security guard on all routes, install stationary facility metal detectors and/or handheld metal detectors to screen incoming passengers for weapons, and implement security enhancements such as surveillance equipment or a wireless transmitter coupled with a standard industry GPS device to facilitate instant communication with police officers if violence occurs in transit. Instead, they continue to prioritize profit over the safety of its passengers, and as a result, preventable incidents like this one continue to happen.”
“Whether one is boarding an airliner or a Greyhound bus, every passenger in today’s day and age deserves proper, effective, security both during the screening and boarding process and during the trip”, Robbins said.
The lawsuit alleges that Greyhound has known for decades of the existence and use of passenger pre-boarding screening devices and procedures calculated to reduce or eliminate the risk that weapons will be carried on buses by violent or otherwise unstable individuals. Yet despite numerous violent assaults aboard Greyhound buses and the company’s vow to implement effective safety procedures to address this very issue, the lawsuit alleges that Greyhound chooses to ignore the risk and allow major safety shortcomings to persist in their on-board and pre-screening procedures.
According to the complaint, Greyhound failed to:
- Preserve the safety of passengers, despite having observed the assailant’s erratic, confrontational and hostile demeanor.
- Warn to passengers of known danger of criminal attack on buses in transit.
- Implement adequate procedures and equipment directed toward protecting passengers from violence at the hands of another passenger, including the assailant.
- Equip, support and ensure proper training to address violence in transit for company employees, including the bus driver.
As a result of Greyhound’s negligence, the plaintiffs suffered and continue to suffer severe emotional trauma that will continue to negatively impact their lives.
“For decades, Greyhound has persistently refused to meaningfully address the known risk of violent assaults on its buses and has diminished the seriousness of this risk to its fare-paying passengers,” says board-certified trial attorney Ronald L.M. Goldman. “Greyhound has not only failed to adequately screen passengers before boarding their buses, they have also failed to inform their passengers that they could be victimized by violent criminal attacks during bus transit. We hope this litigation will persuade Greyhound to address these glaring safety issues before another incident results in injuries or the loss of life.”
About Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman has been litigating personal injury and wrongful death cases against commercial transportation companies, including bus companies, for more than 30 years, obtaining justice and maximum compensation for passengers. The firm’s attorneys have extensive experience litigating against bus carriers and manufacturers such as Greyhound, Ford Motor Company, American Tour and Leasing Co., Bluebird, Sky Express, Inc., American Stage Lines, San Diego Metropolitan Transit, Mexico Transportacion Turista Peninsular, Windsor Inc., and Travellers Coach Company Limited, among many others. Across all areas of practice, the firm has won more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements.
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