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Bus company pays $5M to settle suit after St. Joseph teen struck, killed

Kelly Wiese//February 7, 2012//

Bus company pays $5M to settle suit after St. Joseph teen struck, killed

Kelly Wiese//February 7, 2012//

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A school bus company agreed to pay $5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of a high school student killed when a bus struck him.

Bridgett Blasi sued First Student Inc. after a school bus in November 2010 struck and killed her 16-year-old son, Mason Adams, in St. Joseph.

A jury trial was supposed to begin Monday. But that day, First Student agreed to pay $5 million to resolve the case, the mother’s attorney and court records indicate.

The wrongful death settlement is among the largest reported from Buchanan County, a review of Missouri Lawyers Media’s V&S Search database shows.  The top result in the database came in 2008, when the families of 20 people injured or killed in a St. Joseph pork plant explosion resolved their cases for more than $12 million collectively. (Learn more about that case)

Judge Randall Jackson approved the settlement. He will hold a hearing later to determine how to divide the money. The teenager’s father dismissed his case the morning of trial but under state law still has a claim to some of the settlement proceeds.

An onboard video showed the 23-year-old bus driver didn’t properly scrape or defrost the windows, said Blasi’s attorney, Michael Kuckelman, so she couldn’t see Mason walking in the crosswalk.

The driver, Tracey Jones, faced criminal charges in the accident. She pleaded guilty in January 2011 to carelessly and imprudently operating a vehicle, a misdemeanor, court records show.  She received probation, a 15-day shock jail sentence and community service, after prosecutors said snow and frost on the windows blocked her visibility, according to The Associated Press.

Blasi indicated she plans to use part of the money to build a baseball field in memory of her son and to continue a scholarship fund.

The case is Blasi v. First Student Inc., 10BU-CV05700.

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