Arizona Supreme Court reverses ruling on bus driver responsibility

February 23, 2012

The Arizona Supreme Court has reversed a decision that found Tucson’s bus system responsible for injuries to a wheelchair bound bus passenger. The case deals with the degree to which a bus driver is responsible for a passenger’s safety. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Paul Atkinson reports.

Sun Tran bus Tucson's Sun Tran bus system was the subject of an Arizona Supreme Court ruling. (Photo courtesy of Sun Tran)

Linda Brown boarded a Tucson Sun Tran bus in her wheelchair in May 2008.  The driver secured the wheelchair to prevent it from rolling, but didn’t ask Brown if she wanted to use a seat belt to keep her in the wheelchair.

When a car suddenly stopped in front of the bus, the driver slammed on the brakes, causing Brown to fly out of her wheelchair.  She sued the bus system for her injuries, claiming the driver drove negligently and failed to ask about wearing a seat belt. 

A jury found the driver 70 percent at fault, Brown 30 percent responsible and awarded her $130,000. The Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. But the Arizona Supreme court disagreed.

Justices ruled the bus system is not required to exercise the highest degree of care practicable, only reasonable care. They ordered a new trial in Pima County Superior Court.

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