Judge upholds $3.9M verdict in bus crash

17-year-old IPS student was run over by school bus

INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana judge has upheld a $3.9 million ruling against an Indianapolis Public Schools' contractor for a 2010 collision between a school bus and teenager.

Durham School Services, Inc., an Illinois-based school bus contractor, had appealed for a retrial and reassessment of damages in a suit brought by Richard Bethel, a then-17-year-old IPS student who was run over and seriously injured by a Durham-operated school bus in September of 2010.

Durham's lawyers argued that evidence was admitted improperly and that the jury had awarded excessive damages to Bethel.

Indiana Court of Appeals Judge David Dreyer disagreed declining to overturn the lower court's ruling.

According to court documents, Bethel was struck by a school bus while riding his bike to school near Washington Street and Tibbs Avenue on the west side.

Bethel suffered a fractured right ankle, a compression fracture to his spine, a laceration to his spleen and a degloving injury to his left foot that meant his, "skin was basically peeled off, almost like you peel an orange," according to court documents.

Then a junior at Ben Davis High School, Bethel was enrolled in a Marine ROTC class and hoped to join the Marine Corps after graduation. Bethel testified that he was told he would not be able to enlist in the Marine Corps due to the injury to his spine from the collision.

Bethel's lawyers had originally asked for $35 million in damages. The jury awarded him $3.9 million after finding him 25 percent responsible for the crash, according to court documents.  

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