Casino bus rolls snake eyes

The SE Texas Record Dec. 6, 2008, 3:00am

Virginia Mapes got on the wrong casino bus in suburban Houston.

She wanted to go to the Coushatta casino in Kinder, La. But her bus was going to the Isle of Capri in Lake Charles, 33 miles nearer. The 76-year-old says she didn't see a bus sign designation.

Nonetheless, she rode 65 miles before finally getting off in a Beaumont shopping center parking lot. There, another bus was supposed to pick her up and take her where she wanted to gamble.

Instead, Mapes said she fell and hurt herself while waiting for the bus.

Sounds like a frustrating day. We all have them. But if we all believed we were due hundreds of thousands of dollars for our troubles, ours would be a difficult world in which to live.

Mapes filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County court this week demanding as much and more for her self-inflicted troubles. She's suing Greatland Coach, the small Houston bus company that makes runs from Houston to both Louisiana casinos. Her lawyer, Brian White, says the bus driver "dropped her off alone, in an unfamiliar parking lot, without a cell phone and without any help."

White said that he tried to reach an amicable agreement with the bus company but it wouldn't agree to his settlement demand in the "six figures," so he had to file suit.

Anyone with a heart would feel empathy for an elderly woman who takes a bad tumble. That's probably why White figures his case has potential.

But reading this suit, we feel sorry for the bus driver too, who claims Mapes insisted on getting off in Beaumont.

One has to wonder-- what he was supposed to do?

Upon learning well into his route that Mapes got on the wrong bus, should he have turned around, heading more than an hour back to Houston on her account and at the expense of the other 50 riders? Or should he have insisted that Mapes stay on the bus, riding nearly another hour to Lake Charles with the group?

Mapes apparently wouldn't have gone along with either resolution. After learning of her bus gaffe, she didn't sit back and accept she was headed to Lake Charles. And according to our reading of events, she didn't exit the bus in Beaumont because she wanted to get her own ride home. Rather, that was the place she could hitch another bus ride-- to the casino she wanted.

Talking with our Marilyn Tennissen, White called the whole sequence of events "unbelievable."

We agree, but not for the same reasons.

The most "unbelievable" part of this debacle is that it's ended up in court with a jury trial demand.

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