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California Tour Bus Company Faces Lawsuit Over Fatal Crash

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

By: Indhira Benitez

It seems as though every month there is a new bus company receiving not-so-good media attention in the press. In the bus crash which took place on a mountain highway in Yucaipa, California, 7 people lost their lives to what officials are now saying was the tour bus companies’ disregard to public safety. Scapadas Magicas was repeatedly cited in recent years for vehicle maintenance citations, including multiple brake problems according to federal Department of Transportation records.

Over the past two years, safety inspectors took Scapadas Magicas buses out of service at a much higher rate than the national average, with 36 percent of inspections resulting in that action compared with about 21 percent nationally, and the Department of Transportation added the company to a safety watch list because of the recurring maintenance problems.

The tour bus was returning to Tijuana, Mexico, after a day trip to the Southern California mountains when the driver lost control of the vehicle.The driver claims that he twice alerted his supervisors of brake trouble that day, but was ordered to continue driving (which is a trending topic in these unfortunate bus accident stories).

Based in National City, California, Scapadas Magicas has a fleet of only three buses with five drivers. Despite its vehicle maintenance problems, the company had been given a “satisfactory” safety rating by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Although the bus company’s apparent negligence cannot be denied, it is up to safety commissions and administrative agencies to remove these fleets off of the roads. Not doing so has established a tragic track record of accidents and fatalities around the country.

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