City Seeks Bus Lawsuit Dismissal

OCEAN CITY – The town of Ocean City last week filed a motion to dismiss a $100,000 civil suit alleging negligence for an incident in July 2007 when the plaintiff stepped off a municipal bus allegedly too far from the curb and fractured her ankle.

In June, New Jersey resident Teresa Edwards filed suit in U.S. District Court alleging negligence on the part of the town of the Ocean City and a seasonal bus driver following an incident in July 2007 during which she fell while getting off a municipal bus. In the suit, Edwards claims the bus stopped at her destination but was too far from the curb, causing her to step onto the street.

“When she reached her stop, [the driver] negligently failed to pull the bus next to the curb, causing Ms. Edwards and the other passengers to step onto uneven concrete,” the complaint reads. “When she stepped on this concrete, Ms. Edwards fell and fractured her left ankle.”

The suit alleges negligence against the seasonal bus driver for allegedly failing to pull the bus close enough to the curb to allow Edwards and the other passengers to safely disembark. The town of Ocean City is named as a defendant for failing to properly train its seasonal bus drivers, and for allegedly knowing about the poor condition of the roadway where the plaintiff fell and failing to repair it.

“Ocean City failed to properly train Ruby, by, among other things, emphasizing the need to stop the bus directly adjacent to a curb so that passengers would not have to step on potentially hazardous areas of the roadways,” the complaint reads. “Further, Ocean City was aware of the uneven concrete on which the plaintiff injured herself prior to July 17, 2007, yet failed to address this hazardous condition. For these reasons, Ocean City was negligent and these acts of negligence proximately caused the plaintiffs’ injuries.”

Last week, the town of Ocean City filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming the plaintiff’s failure to provide the municipality with a notice of a claim within 180 days of the incident in question as the basis for the dismissal. In Maryland, state tort claims against a municipality and/or its employees are governed by the Local Government Tort Claims Act, which requires a plaintiff to provide a notice of a claim as a prerequisite to the filing of the civil suit. In its motion to dismiss the case, the town claims it was not served with notice in a timely manner.

However, this week the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, stating the town was provided with a notice on Jan. 8, 2008, which was within the 180-day window from the alleged incident.