More survivors join suit in deadly Ore. bus crash

By Steven Dubois, AP January 17, 2013 07:28 am

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The legal problems are piling up for the Canadian tour company whose bus crashed on an icy highway in Eastern Oregon last month, killing nine passengers and injuring almost 40.

An attorney who filed a lawsuit in Tacoma, Wash., on behalf of two foreign exchange students who survived the crash said Wednesday that five additional victims have joined the complaint.

Moreover, the suit has been amended to add the president of Mi Joo Tour & Travel as a defendant. The lawsuit states Edward Kang was added because the factors it alleges to have led to the crash — driver fatigue, ignored warnings and excessive speed for the icy conditions — were triggered by management policies, "based upon cost and profit considerations rather than safety of their passengers."

Also added as a defendant was the bus driver, Haeng Kyu Hwang, of Vancouver, British Columbia.

"To be candid with you, I'm not interested in going up there and grabbing the guy by his ankles and seeing what we squeeze out of him," attorney Charles Herrmann said. "But he is primarily culpable and I think it is better that he's in the lawsuit."

Police have yet to say what caused the Dec. 30 crash on Interstate 84 east of Pendleton. In the wake of crash, government authorities in Canada and the U.S. banned the company from operating buses on their roads. The U.S. investigation found the driver had been on duty for 92 hours in the eight-day stretch before the crash, exceeding the 70-hour federal limit.

Company attorney Mark P. Scheer responded to the allegations by saying the driver had plenty of sleep the night before the crash and black ice, not excessive speed, was a major factor in the bus losing control.

Besides the Tacoma-based suit, a Canadian husband and wife have sued the tour company in their home country. The lawsuit filed on behalf of June Won Kim and his wife Hee Eun Kim accuses the driver of speeding, failing to stop, ignoring traffic rules and knowingly driving a defective vehicle.

Both lawsuits seek unspecified damages