The Zinn Law Firm’s $2.5 million settlement with AC Transit comes on the heels of several other substantial injury cases in which AC Transit has been involved. For example, on September 2011, AC Transit agreed to pay $10.5 million to a man who had suffered crush injuries to his pelvis, leg, hip and other parts of his body after being dragged 30 feet by an AC Transit bus. In September 2013, AC Transit agreed to pay $20,452,502 to a pedestrian who suffered a leg amputation when an AC Transit bus ran into him.
In May 2014, a Contra Costa County jury ordered AC Transit to pay $15.4 million in the case of Francisco v. AC Transit. In that case, a woman suffered a fractured spine when she and her four-year old daughter were thrown into the air after their AC Transit bus driver, Dolly Gilmore, took a speed bump at twice the recommended speed. Ms. Gilmore did not lose her job or suffer any meaningful discipline for her role in that accident. In fact, Ms. Gilmore was the off-duty AC Transit driver who was conversing with operator Jackson in the Zinn Law Firm’s case, involving the negligent driver running the red light at 20 miles per hour thereby knocking an elderly passenger out of her seat June 4, 2012.
Carter Zinn is a dedicated advocate for bicyclist and pedestrian safety. He was involved in drafting California law permitting California cities and counties to construct physically separate “Class IV” bicycle lanes, or cycle tracks, such as what the City of New York created on 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan. (He also happened to grow up in Berkeley riding AC Transit buses to school.) For him, the accident with operator Jackson underscores AC Transit’s need to pay better attention to ensuring its hundreds of bus drivers are following AC Transit’s own safety rules and guidelines.
“Ms. Jackson made the exact same mistake six weeks earlier by taking a dangerous, out-of-control left turn at an excessive and unsafe speed,” said Zinn. “And that time she entered the intersection on a red light, with a bus full of passengers. But other than writing a rather innocuous letter, AC Transit did nothing to make sure this driver understood this was unacceptable. Had AC Transit simply taken Ms. Jackson off the road at that time and given her appropriate retraining before letting her back on the road, our client’s accident may not have occurred.”
Mr. Zinn and his client believe AC Transit can and should do better in making sure that their drivers are safely and conscientiously operating their vehicles. “Clearly there are profound challenges running an urban public transit agency on a limited budget,” said Mr. Zinn. “However, the East Bay taxpayers who subsidize AC Transit, and the motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others who share the roads with AC Transit buses, all deserve that the District make a better effort at ensuring their drivers follow the basic safety rules that every other driver is also required to follow.”