Judge to decide on settlement in school bus drill lawsuit

A federal judge has been asked to approve a $135,000 settlement request in a lawsuit over an injury suffered by the Jersey Shore Area School District student occurring about three years ago during a school bus fire drill.

The petition was filed earlier this month in U.S. Middle District Court by Valerie Smith on behalf of her daughter, now 15. The daughter was 13 at the time of the drill in September 2011 and was hurt as she jumped from out of the bus and broke her leg in the fall. The teenager’s injuries required surgery and rehabilitation.

The mother has agreed not to pursue other claims against the district and the bus company if the settlement is approved.

According to court documents, the daughter broke her left leg jumping from the rear exit door of a school bus during the Sept. 1, 2011, fire drill. The girl has since made recovery and has no lasting effects from her injuries, according to the court documents.

The suit accused the district of failing to provide to necessary equipment to assist students, such as a step stool or ladders, for students jumping at least 3 to 4 feet onto the ground from out the rear bus emergency door. It also charged the district with failing to follow proper procedures as outlined in the state School Bus Driver’s Manual.

After her legal fees are paid and the insurance company is reimbursed for medical bills it paid, the girl will receive $48,584 that will be placed in a special account to which she will have access once she reaches 18.

Brann did not rule at the hearing and is expected to issue an order on the settlement at a later date, according to a court official.