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Bus crash lawsuit dropped against all but driver

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By Jeff Moore

A Carroll County judge has dismissed a lawsuit against members of the board of education and school administrators in connection with the Oct. 29, 2012 head start bus accident that claimed the lives of two children and injured seven other Head Start students and the bus assistant.

According to an order entered Monday, Jan. 14, substitute Judge Bailey Taylor, who was filling in for Judge Stephen Bates, ruled that claims against all defendants, except for bus driver Laura Reed, would be dismissed without prejudice. Those claims against Reed were limited in the order “to the extent of any existing liability insurance.”

The lawsuit, filed in Carroll County Circuit Court Nov. 13, was on behalf of Erica Isaias Cruz, the mother of Dulce Cruz of Worthville, and Charles T. and Kristina M. Hollingsworth, parents of Ryleigh Nicole Hollingsworth of Ghent.

The order signed by Taylor dismissed the case against defendants Carroll County Schools Superintendent Lisa James, Assistant Superintendent Bill Hogan, Chief Operating Officer Larry Curell, Director of the Office of Transportation Nadena Mahoney and Board of Education members Carolyn Jones, Mona Kindoll, Tommy Unker and Mary Ann Pearson. The lawsuit also named former board member Jennifer Beach, who was not serving at the time of the accident.

Attorney Eric Deters of Independence, Ky., who is representing the Cruz and Hollingsworth families, filed the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that Reed “operated the school bus in excess of the speed limit and in a negligent, reckless, and unsafe manner. As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of Defendant Laura Reed, Plaintiffs Ryleigh Nicole Hollingsworth and Dulce Cruz sustained severe and permanent physical injuries, as well as emotional injuries as are more fully hereinafter set forth.”

According to the lawsuit, Hollingsworth sustained fractures to her collar bone, and Cruz’s injuries included fractures to her left leg.

Reed, 59, has served as a Head Start bus driver since she was hired Aug. 1, 1994, and as a cook/baker at Carroll County Middle School since 2000, according to her personnel file, obtained through a Kentucky Open Records request.

The plaintiffs had demanded judgment against the defendants for compensatory damages, award of prejudgment interest, recovery of plaintiffs costs incurred, including reasonable attorney fees, and any and all other relief to which the plaintiffs may appear entitled, according to the lawsuit.