Wednesday, November 17, 1999

School district sued over car crash


No bus service; girl injured

BY SHEILA McLAUGHLIN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A crash that occurred after a driver dispute canceled bus service for a school community service project has pitted a mother against the Lebanon district in a $4 million lawsuit.

        Gloria Coyle, whose daughter, Angela Utz, 16, was seri ously injured in the crash last school year, claims that school officials were negligent because they did not provide alternative transportation when drivers called in sick to protest the district's privatization of bus service.

        Instead, they directed students to car pool, the suit said.

        Consequently, Angela and three others rode with Seth Hertlein of Lebanon and were injured when Seth lost control of his car on Ohio 350 and slammed into a tree.

        The students were headed to the Little Miami River for a clean-up project to satisfy a community service requirement needed to graduate, said Konrad Kircher, who is Ms. Coyle's attorney.

        The principal and a teacher who organized the activity drove some students, he said.

        “It was a difficult decision for the family to sue the school, but it's merely to compensate Angela for her devastating injuries,” Mr. Kircher said.

        The lawsuit claims that An gela'sinjuries resulted in $60,000 in medical costs and in additional out-of-pocket expenses, and cost Ms. Coyle and Angela time off work.

        Ms. Coyle of Lebanon also is suing Seth, his parents and three insurance firms.

        Carol Dorn, spokeswoman for the school district, said she wasn't aware of the lawsuit, which was filed in Warren County Common Pleas Court on Friday. She declined comment, saying school officials do not discuss pending legal matters.

        Angela, who recovered from her injuries and still attends Lebanon High, was the most seriously injured and one of two hospitalized after the crash.

        Three others, including Seth, were treated at hospitals and released soon after the accident.

        At the time, troopers with the Lebanon post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said Seth appeared to be speeding when he lost control of the car on a sharp curve.

       



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