Mother sues school after child locked on abandoned bus

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 11:45pm

A mother whose daughter was left stranded on a Smithson-Craighead Academy school bus filed suit this week against the nonprofit agency that operates the Metro charter school.

The suit, filed in Davidson County Circuit Court, stems from a much-publicized incident a year ago when a 7-year-old girl and Smithson-Craighead student was locked in a bus parked at the schoolyard. The girl, unbeknownst to the driver, had fallen asleep on the bus.

According to the suit, the child fell asleep on her way home from school and therefore didn’t exit at her normal bus stop. After completing his route, the driver returned the bus to the Smithson-Craighead campus where he locked the bus inside a locked chain-linked fence.

“[The girl] awoke to discover that she was cold and alone inside a school bus which was parked inside a locked fence,” the suit reads. “[She] became so afraid that she urinated on herself in her clothing. After prying open the school bus, [she] unsuccessfully attempted to squeeze through the locked gate of the fenced enclosure.”

Finally, the suit contends, after the girl cried for assistance, a neighbor resident “scaled the fenced enclosure” to rescue the child at 6:29 p.m., two and a half hours after she boarded the bus.

Her mother was unable to communicate with anyone at Smithson-Craighead until the next day, according to the suit.

A year after the incident, the suit claims, the girl is afraid to attend school, afraid of all buses, requires a nightlight to sleep, receives mental health counseling and has started to experience nightmares.

Plaintiffs, receiving legal counsel from attorneys Gary Blackburn and John Ray Clemmons, are seeking $500,000 in punitive damages and $250,000 in compensatory damages.

The complaint has been filed against Project Reflect Inc., a nonprofit organization that founded Smithson-Craighead and carries out the school operations, which include its bus system. The suit accuses the defendant of acting with negligence.

Attorney Charles Grant, who provides legal representation for Project Reflect, said he hadn’t seen the suit and declined to comment.

4 Comments on this post:

By: Jagman on 3/25/10 at 6:34

Give me a break! WS was correct when he commented on lawyers.

By: GUARDIAN on 3/25/10 at 12:28

I hate all the lawsuits people file over nothing and I believe that when people file one they should be responsible for all fees and court costs if they loose. This family should be paid but the school, bus company and diver should of settled this out of court.. Drivers should always check buses at the end of their run.

By: on 3/25/10 at 9:48

i strognly belive the litle child was scared, i strongly belive it wil take time for the child to recover and may be will remain witth some mental problem,but in any case the money will not fix the problem and this tipe of geting rich over knight will only open gate for more incuraging hunting for sue, it is realy ridicol, if she or anyone negligent their children can the neighbour sue you or the state sue you for the $750,000, can you pay it

By: the_real_fam on 4/8/10 at 2:09

This child is my niece and the money ain't the issue because we were very well of before this money and will continue to be. This ain't no get rich nothing. I mean this is the drivers fault. The school bus driver was very wrong he should have checked his bus before leaving it there. So this is basically saying that the driver don't check the bus when he gets on it. Who says there isn't someone on there then ready to kill or rape every child on that bus then what?? You are right the school should have settled outside of court because they have bus cameras they seen the driver was irresponsible. And to gigi please get it together you got the nerve to come on here and say all this mess what if it was your child?? Plus you can't even spell!!