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Class-action suit filed in fatal Baltimore school bus, MTA crash

Fire department and rescue officials are at the scene of an early morning fatal collision between a school bus and a commuter bus Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Baltimore. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Baltimore Sun via AP)

Fire department and rescue officials are at the scene of an early morning fatal collision between a school bus and a commuter bus Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Baltimore. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Baltimore Sun via AP)

Victims of a fatal crash between a Baltimore school bus and a commuter bus filed a class-action suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Thursday seeking damages from the school bus company and its medical certification company.

The November crash killed six, including both drivers, and injured 11. Glenn Chappell, who was driving the school bus when it rear-ended a car and collided with an oncoming Maryland Transit Administration bus, did not have a valid commercial driver’s license because his medical examiner’s certificate had expired.

“There are tragedies and there are tragedies,” plaintiff’s attorney Hassan Murphy said at a news conference Thursday. “The worst ones are the ones that are preventable.”

Concentra Health Services Inc., which certified Chappell, should have been aware that he had seizures, hypertension and diabetes, said Murphy, of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy in Baltimore. The company medically cleared him to drive commercial vehicles.

Kerry Staton, another plaintiffs’ lawyer said Chappell was “a ticking time bomb” Concentra should have reported. Staton is with Schochor, Federico and Staton P.A. in Baltimore.

The lawsuit, which claims negligence, negligent hiring and entrustment, battery, wrongful death and survival action, seeks class certification for 14 plaintiffs who were either injured in the crash or a survivor of one of the deceased victims.

Murphy said he believes a class-action lawsuit is the most efficient way for the court to proceed in the case, as opposed to 14 separate cases.

“In those 14 cases, any one lawyer can do damage across all 14,” he said.

Michelle Kennedy, a named plaintiff in the lawsuit, was on the MTA bus going to work. She sustained broken bones, a head injury and lacerations. She said Thursday she has been unable to work since the crash and still has headaches and flashbacks.

Antwan Baker, the husband of Ebonee Baker, the MTA bus driver, said he lost his wife and best friend as well as his children’s mother.

“We’ll never be the same,” he said.

Baltimore City Public Schools terminated its contract with the bus company, AAAfordable Transportation LLC. Murphy declined to discuss why the school system was not named in the lawsuit, citing trial strategy.

The case is Michelle Kennedy et al. v. AAAfordable Tansportation LLC et al., 24C17002426.

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