Plaintiff in bus accident awarded medical expenses

Jury finds bus driver only 10 percent at fault for accident

Posted: Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A car passenger injured in an accident with a bus more than four years ago on Egan Drive can only partially blame the bus driver, a Juneau jury has ruled.

The driver of the car that Kenny Taug was riding in was most at fault, the jury determined.

Ole and Karen Taug filed suit in 2002 against Capital Transit and bus driver Albert Buss on behalf of their son, who was injured on Nov. 27, 2000, on Egan Drive near Glacier Highway, about two miles out of downtown.

Kenny Taug, 16 at the time, was a passenger in a Mazda driven by then-16-year-old Rhett Ridgeway, son of Juneau Assembly member Stan Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway family was not a party to the Taug suit. The Ridgeways filed a separate lawsuit, which they settled with the city last year.

A jury who heard eight days of testimony and arguments and viewed hundreds of exhibits decided last week that the bus driver contributed to the accident that injured Kenny Taug.

In assigning responsibility for the damages in the case, jurors determined that the city and Capital Transit bore no negligence for training and maintaining Buss as a driver. It assigned 10 percent of the accident's responsibility to Buss.

Jurors found Rhett Ridgeway was 90 percent responsible, according to Juneau court records.

Ridgeway pleaded no contest to a charge of negligent driving related to the accident.

Jurors determined the Taug family realized $280,000 in total damages from the accident.

In computing damages, they found Kenny Taug's past medical expenses totaled $175,000, including transportation to and treatment at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. They also determined future medical expenses would total $100,000 and found no future loss of earning capacity and no noneconomic losses due to pain and suffering, emotional distress or loss of enjoyment of life.

Jurors found Karen Taug had sustained a $5,000 economic loss from the accident, including expenses attributable to lost time from work.

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