Paraplegic sues after first ride on transit bus results in head injury

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Apr. 10, 2012, 9:46am

MARSHALL - A paralyzed woman has filed a lawsuit against Longview's transit company after she suffered a head injury when her scooter tipped over and she fell out.

Ethel Rene Allen filed suit against Longview Transit Management Inc. & Ray Charles Bowie on March 28 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

Allen is a paraplegic who has been confined to a wheelchair since 1991. She states that she suffered serious injuries on her first para-transit bus trip on Sept. 20, 2010.

According to the lawsuit, the driver, Ray Charles Bowie, secured Allen's scooter by placing a single strap across it. Allen claims that when the bus attempted a right hand turn, her scooter leaned to the left, tipped over and sent her flying onto the floor. She hit her head on the seat railings and lost consciousness, the suit states.

In addition, Allen claims that the driver failed to call for emergency medical assistance and instead, sought the help of a construction worker to get her back into her chair.

Allen states she insisted that they stop and call for emergency assistance. Bowie allegedly responded by calling his supervisor, who came to the scene and then instructed Bowie to call an ambulance.

The defendants are accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The defendants are also accused of negligence for failing to use ordinary care to avoid injuries.

Specifically, defendant Bowie is accused of failing to secure Allen's scooter before operating the bus, failing to maintain the control of his vehicle and for driving at an unsafe speed.

Defendant Longview Transit Management is accused of negligence for failing to screen, train and supervise Bowie prior to entrusting him with the operation of the para-transit bus and for failing to enforce its rules and regulations pertaining to the transportation of persons of limited mobility.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of damages for medical expenses, physical impairment, pain, suffering, mental anguish, attorney's fees, interest, and court costs.

Allen is represented by Henderson attorney James A. Holmes.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-00165

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