OSCODA, Mich. — Oscoda Area Schools and one of its bus drivers were taken to court after the driver drove on an off-route, unmaintained road with dips that sent students bouncing in the air and injured a student, MLive reports.
The mother of Ashley Jacques, the injured student, filed a lawsuit against bus driver Robin Edwards and the district, alleging that the driver was grossly negligent in the October 2011 incident, the news source reports. According to court documents on a recent ruling on the case by the Michigan Court of Appeals, students asked Edwards to drive on a road that had dips that caused them to bounce in the air.
One deep dip sent students flying out of their seats, and Edwards stopped the bus at the request of a student. She testified that Jacques was bleeding, but told her she was OK, court documents stated. Edwards added that she had driven the road before without problems and did not believe anyone would get hurt if she drove safely, but admitted that it was her instinct that it was not safe to drive a school bus down an unmaintained road.
A Circuit Court judge denied motions from both sides for summary disposition on the issue of gross negligence, and determined it was best for a jury to decide on the issue, according to court documents. The defendants appealed the decision and the state Court of Appeals, in a ruling issued last week, affirmed the lower court's decision and sent the case back to Oscoda County for trial, MLive reports.
The appeals court said driving down the unmaintained portion of road did not establish gross negligence because knowing the students would bounce in their seats is not the same as knowing the bouncing would create a substantial likelihood of harm, according to court documents.