Opening statements are scheduled this morning in Juneau Superior Court in a lawsuit filed against the city, Capital Transit and a bus driver involved in a 2000 accident involving the teenage son of a Juneau Assembly member.
Ole and Karen Taug filed the suit in 2002. Their son, Kenny Taug, was injured as a passenger in a 1994 Mazda Protege that collided with a city bus on Nov. 27, 2000, on Egan Drive at Glacier Highway, about two miles outside of the downtown area. The complaint alleges bus driver Albert Buss caused the accident by failing to yield to oncoming traffic while turning left.
While questioning prospective jurors Tuesday, attorneys asked if they could determine without prejudice which driver was at fault in the accident.
The Mazda was driven by Rhett Ridgeway, son of Assembly member Stan Ridgeway. Kenny Taug was flown to Seattle to be treated for injuries he sustained in the accident. He and Rhett Ridgeway were 16 at the time of the accident.
The Ridgeway family filed a separate lawsuit against the city, bus company and bus driver concerning the accident. They settled the case last year.
The Taug lawsuit does not seek a specific dollar amount, but David George, the attorney representing the Taug family, told prospective jurors Tuesday he would be seeking a large award and asked if anyone had problems with people seeking damages in court for personal injuries.
It took all day Tuesday to select 14 Juneau residents to serve as a jury. Twelve of them will be designated to deliberate.
Ketchikan Superior Court Judge Michael Thompson, who is presiding over the case, swore in the panel at the Dimond Courthouse. He said the trial could last through next week.
George asked prospective jurors what they would think if they saw a teenager standing at an accident scene, and whether they would assume the young driver was at fault.
He asked the judge to dismiss one downtown businessman, arguing that he showed bias against teen drivers.
City police investigators and crime scene experts are listed as witnesses in the case. Previous Empire stories reported that police cited Rhett Ridgeway after the accident on a charge of reckless driving. Ridgeway agreed to plead no contest to negligent driving.
Tony Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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