One of my Facebook Friends posted this today and I am sharing it with permission:
As I watched the news yesterday I realized it had been 30 years since the Carrollton Bus crash where so many lives, mostly teenagers were lost. For those of us here in KY when we drive to Louisville we all see the sign memorializing that terrible day when a drunk driver hit the bus and was the fuse that ignited the unprotected gas tank.
For those of you who do not know, there was only one civil case regarding this crash and my late Father William R Dunn was the presiding judge. He also was given the authority by the attorneys from Ford Motor Company and the two families who did not agree to a settlement ($75,000) to decide the outcome of the case.
After a lengthy trial where there was much evidence introduced from both sides the attorneys agreed to a settlement offer of either 3 million or 5 million dollars and that number would be decided by my father.
In the book Reckless Disregard a story about the worst drunk driving crash in US history. It states on April 7th 1992 almost four years after the crash, my father handed both parties an envelope with a single sheet of paper with only two lines of print... it read simply that he had awarded the two families 5 million dollars each. He stated in conversations afterward, that Ford and their actions were so egregious and the companies actions so abominable for not addressing the lack of a cage and protection around the gas tank of the bus. They had taken no care in the manufacturing of the bus. The resulting crash that punctured the gas tank caused the deaths of all those children. The attorneys concluded my father found that Ford was ultimately responsible for all of those deaths and they knew by not replacing the gas tanks this event could happen. By awarding the maximum amount of punitive damages to the families, this was clear. There was no other way to reach the 5 million dollar figure. However, do to the settlement agreement, it could not be stated publicly.
This decision changed school bus standards nation wide and made school bus safety a priority. My father told me , in all his years of practicing law and being a judge, this case he was most proud of because it changed things for the better, out of such a horrific tragedy. It changed the way school buses were mandated to be constructed so this tragedy would never be repeated. He also stated, and if you knew my father this certainly was true “I am the only (edited for content) in the state that was able to wade through all the lawyer (edited for content) to get to the truth and how it needed to be done.”
My father passed away two months after he awarded that verdict so he never really got see the full impact of his decision. But I guess I can say it now .. Dad, job well done you certainly got it right!
Here is a picture of the Honorable Judge William R. Dunn