The family of Ashley Davis, who was killed from injuries sustained in a car crash in 2009, was awarded $90 million by a Prince George County Circuit Court jury. The six-member panel jury determined a wrongful-death verdict this month and is one of the largest in the court's history.
Ashley Davis was a 13-year-old freshman at Crossland High School in Temple Hills, Maryland who was struck by an oncoming Lincoln Continental on September 1, 2009. The car then proceeded to hit a minivan and a 17-year-old boy on the opposite side of the street, injuring a total of seven people. Davis was promptly flown to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC after the accident. She was the only victim who sustained grave injuries and passed away two weeks later.
The family sued the Prince George's County Board of Education for failing to provide a safe bus stop for students who lived in the area. According to court documents, Davis' bus driver failed to stop at the appropriate bus stop and students began to take a different school bus that stopped at the south side of the street. The location of this stop required Davis to cross the road. John Costello, attorney for the Davis family, argued that the school neglected to provide safe transportation for students to get to school.
"The jury was upset that [the school board's] policy was not followed for a full week and a little girl in her first year of high school ended up suffering the consequences," Costello remarked on the verdict. He also indicated that he expected the school to appeal the ruling. A spokesman for the school system declined to comment on the case.
The Washington Post reports that for years parents have complained about the school's inadequate bus transportation system and the unsafe routes that children are required to walk. Last year the school system was dealing with a bus driver shortage and instituted a cost-cutting transportation policy that included provisions such as reducing the number of buses by 130, combining middle school and high school routes, and cut the number of stops by 2,350. This action by the Prince George County School Board only intensified the complaints. The policy was projected to save the school system $10 million; however, it also increased the distance that elementary school students must walk from one to one and a half miles.