Bus slip and fall suit set for July 14 bench trial

By Alejandro de los Rios | Jun 30, 2010

Kiana Mitchell

A slip and fall suit involving a woman who fell on a bus operated by the Transit Management of Southeast Louisiana Inc. is set for a one-day bench trial in Orleans Parish Civil District Court on July 14.

Mary Zanders is suing Transit Management, which does business in New Orleans at the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), after she fell on a bus after the driver allegedly "made a fast start from a stopped position."

New Orleans attorney Birch McDonough filed the seven-year-old suit in February 2003. The original petition for damages claims that Zanders suffered "lumber and cervical strain, injury to her shoulder and a sprained neck" and that "the sole cause of the accident was the negligence of the RTA operator."

New Orleans attorney Robert Peyton is representing RTA. He replaced the original counsel of record, Ranord Darensburg in June 2007.

New Orleans attorneys Craig and Kiana Mitchell were added to the defense counsel in July 2007.

Orleans Parish Judge Robin Giarusso is overseeing the case.

The defense claimed that "the sole cause of the accident sued upon was caused by the fault of a third party for which the defendants are not responsible," though RTA has never identified a third party.

RTA's defense cited Act 1995 No 75 of the Louisiana Legislature, amended R.S. 48:1656(23), which reads in part: "the authority shall not be deemed to a common carrier, or interpreted to be such by any court of this state in a suit for personal injury or property damage."

In November 2009, Judge Giarrusso granted a plaintiff's motion for a settlement conference, but no settlement was reached.

On May 3, 2010, the defense filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that the "plaintiff has failed to meet her burden of proving that there was a defect or condition on the bus at issue for which RTA can be held responsible." Plaintiff attorneys filed an opposition for the motion on May 25.

Orleans Parish Case 2003-02847

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