Transport Company Found Liable for Death of Developmentally-Delayed Passenger
After the choking death of an unattended passenger with severe intellectual disabilities, a transit company will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the deceased person’s family.
The victim was Robbie McKenzie, a 56-year- old man who lived in a group home in Lynchburg, Virginia. On the day of the accident, McKenzie was participating in a supervised day program, with transportation to and from the day program provided by transportation company B&S Xpress. The driver, Charles Smith, left McKenzie unattended in the van while he picked up another passenger. During that time, McKenzie, who had a documented history of compulsive eating, found a piece of cake that the driver had kept on the bus. He ate the cake, choked on it, and spent the following month in the hospital on life support. Ultimately, his family decided to remove life support, at which time the man died.
McKenzie’s sister, Cynthia Perkins, filed a claim against B&S Xpress for the wrongful death of her brother in January of 2016. She claimed that B&S’s negligence in failing to monitor her brother during the entire trip resulted in his death, and requested as damages the costs of McKenzie’s medical care during the month he spent in the hospital, the costs of his funeral, and compensation for sorrow, mental anguish, and solace.
During the trial, lawyers for Perkins presented evidence that B&S Xpress was aware of McKenzie’s food compulsion, and that the driver had failed to uphold his duty to keep his passenger safe by leaving McKenzie unsupervised in the van when it contained food. B&S Xpress claimed that the true cause of the man’s death was his food compulsion, and not negligence on behalf of the driver. The judge disagreed. Before the conclusion of the trial, the judge instructed the jury that the driver had been negligent by leaving McKenzie alone in the van, and that their job was to determine whether that negligence was the cause of McKenzie’s death. Ultimately, the jury concluded that it was. The jury awarded McKenzie’s family damages covering the cost of McKenzie’s hospital stay, the costs of his funeral, and a sum to be divided among the siblings that compensated them for their emotional suffering at his passing.
If you or someone you love was injured while a passenger on non-emergency medical transportation in Georgia, find out if you should file a claim for money damages by contacting the dedicated and compassionate Atlanta personal injury lawyer Aaron Marks of the Marks Law Group, LLC for a consultation, at 404-939- 1485.