Mother of bus crash victim sues FedEx, bus company for $100 million

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 4/25/2014

The mother of one teenager who died in a fiery crash involving a FedEx truck and a charter bus has filed a wrongful death suit seeking $100 million in damages.

The suit was filed April 22 in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Rosa Rivera, the mother of Jennifer Bonilla, who died along with nine other people in the April 10 crash.

The suit names FedEx Corp. and FedEx Freight Inc., as well as driver Timothy P. Evans, as defendants. It also lists the bus company Silverado Stages Inc. as a defendant. Evans and the charter bus driver, Talalelei Lealao-Taiao, also perished in the crash.

According to the lawsuit, Evans was driving the FedEx tractor-trailer southbound on Interstate 5 near Orland, Calif., when it suddenly veered across the median, clipped a northbound passenger vehicle, then collided with a northbound bus packed with high school students on their way to visit Humboldt State University. The vehicles burst into flames and those aboard the bus scrambled for exits.

Some witnesses reported that the FedEx truck was on fire before it struck the bus, but those reports have not been confirmed by the investigation. The lawsuit alleges FedEx has “a history of fires in its vehicles” and added the company has “willfully failed to resolve” the issue. The suit claims the trucks catch fire “either due to mechanical problems, driver error, or due to improper loading of cargo.”

The suit alleges negligence on the part of Silverado Stages, for failing to adequately equip its commercial bus with safety equipment including exit doors.

Rivera’s attorney, A. King Aminpour, did not respond to a request for comment from Land Line.
A FedEx representative declined to comment about the specific allegations referenced in the lawsuit.

“Our heartfelt condolences remain with everyone touched by this tragic accident,” FedEx spokesperson Shea Leordaneau said in a statement. “We remain focused on providing support to those affected and cooperating with the authorities as they conduct their investigation. This is not the time for us to discuss potential litigation.”

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