BOE lawyers file an­swer in bus wreck suit

The Covington News - - THE SECOND FRONT - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­news.com

De­fense lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion have an­swered a class-ac­tion law­suit filed by the fa­ther of two chil­dren who were among the 40 peo­ple sent to the hos­pi­tal af­ter a twobus ac­ci­dent in Jan­uary. The de­fense de­nies al­le­ga­tions in the law­suit and says the BOE is “not the proper party de­fen­dant ca­pa­ble of be­ing sued.’’

The suit, filed by Jimmy Coglianese on June 12 in the Su­pe­rior Court of New­ton County, on be­half of his daugh­ters Olivia and An­gelina Coglianese and “all oth­ers sim­i­larly situ- ated,” claims the New­ton County School Sys­tem was “neg­li­gent in caus­ing the col­li­sion, ei­ther di­rectly or vi­car­i­ously, through its bus driver.”

The suit lists for­mer New­ton County Schools’ su­per­in­ten­dent Gary Mathews, and Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­bers Jeff Meadors, Ed­die John­son, Shakila Hen­der­son-Baker, Al­mond Turner and Abi­gail Cog­gin as de­fen­dants.

The suit fur­ther claims that the BOE and for­mer su­per­in­ten­dent were “re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing the school bus in proper op­er­at­ing con­di­tion; for hir­ing, train­ing and main­tain­ing proper driv­ers; and for the over­all op­er­a­tions” and that the Board’s “neg­li­gence is a prox­i­mate cause of the col­li­sion.”

At­tor­neys with Har­ben, Hart­ley & Hawkins in Gainesville, rep­re­sent­ing the BOE and for­mer su­per­in­ten­dent Mathews, say in their an­swer to the law­suit that “any in­jury or dam­ages suf­fered by the plain­tiffs were the re­sult of an inde- pen­dent in­ter­ven­ing cause” and were “not the re­sult of any al­leged neg­li­gence or other ac­tions or in­ac­tions of de­fen­dants.”

The an­swer and re­spon­sive plead­ings fur­ther state that the BOE is “not the proper party de­fen­dant ca­pa­ble of be­ing sued.”

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