LAS VEGAS SUN
March 31, 1999
Bus firm hit with another lawsuit by disabled rider
By Bill Gang
Less than a month after a District Court jury slapped the company that runs the CAT buses with a $25 million judgment for a wheelchair user, a similar lawsuit has been filed against the company.Norma Weinstein, 85, alleges in her lawsuit that a bus driver failed to secure her electric wheelchair in a CAT Paratransit van, and she broke her hip when she fell out of it as the van rounded a corner.The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by attorney Steven Karen against ATC Vancom of Nevada, says the elderly woman was hospitalized for five days.He added that this is the second time Weinstein has been injured in a Citizens Area Transit incident. The first was on Oct. 24, 1996, when she and her wheelchair fell off a paratransit van’s electronic ramp as it was being lowered.She sued over that incident as well, but that suit has yet to reach trial.Karen said that despite the incidents and the injuries, Weinstein has no way other than the CAT buses to travel around Clark County.
The $25 million judgment, believed to be the largest jury award in Nevada history, involved an incident that further disabled a man who already had lost the use of his legs.Lee O’Brien, already relegated to a wheelchair because of a motorcycle accident in 1982, had been using an automatic ramp to board a CAT bus in 1993 when the driver prematurely raised the device, according to attorney Randy Mainor.O’Brien, 40, said the movement knocked his wheelchair out from under him and sent his head and neck slamming against the metal ramp.Mainor said O’Brien had sensation in his legs — although not their use — before the incident, but that ended along with control over bodily functions, his ability to have sex and his ability to participate in wheelchair sports and skiing.Sensation was replaced with chronic pain that requires him to take methadone, the attorney said.The owner of the bus franchise, ATC Vancom Inc. and ATC Vancom of Nevada Inc., accepted responsibility for O’Brien’s injuries but offered only $175,000 in compensation.At his trial, Mainor asked the jury to award $14 million, but the jury increased that figure.Problems or questions?Read our policy on privacy and cookies.All contents © 1996 – 2007 Las Vegas Sun, Inc.