$700 million lawsuit in Pendleton bus crash

Written by The Associated Press December 26, 2013 12:38 pm

PENDLETON — A British Columbia lawyer representing 12 victims from a charter bus crash last year on Interstate 84 in Eastern Oregon has filed a lawsuit seeking $700 million.

The group is seeking a jury trial on accusations the bus driver was fatigued from long hours behind the wheel and drove too fast, and the tour operators were negligent, the East Oregonian (http://bit.ly/19j0NhV) reported.

The lawsuit also accused Oregon and the state Transportation Department of failing to make the stretch of I-84 through the Blue Mountains safe, such as by putting in barriers to keep the bus from going nearly 200 feet into a ravine.

Nine people were killed and 38 injured when the charter bus from Vancouver, British Columbia, crashed on Dec 30. It was on the final day of a Western tour.

The suit was filed Monday at the Umatilla County Courthouse by Scott Parks, attorney for the estates of two of the dead and for 10 of the survivors. Among those survivors is Choonja Moon, 53, wife of Seokmin Moon, 55, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, who died along with Youmin Kim, 12, of South Korea.

Department of Transportation spokesman Dave Thompson said Thursday that the agency would have no comment on a lawsuit.

Mark P. Scheer, a lawyer for bus company Mi Joo Tour & Travel, did not immediately return a call for comment. He has previously said the driver had enough sleep, and he has blamed black ice for the accident.

Oregon and the agency are also plaintiffs in a separate, $10 million lawsuit filed by a survivor and the estates of three of the dead.

Mi Joo Tour & Travel is a defendant in that lawsuit. The federal Department of Transportation in January yanked the company's registration to operate in the United States.

Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus has said he's working with state and federal agencies and is still considering whether to seek charges in the crash.