Jury awards $5M in lawsuit over death of woman hit by bus
Troy — An Oakland County jury has awarded a $5 million verdict to the family of a woman killed by a SMART bus while she was crossing a city street in 2014.
Sally LaMay, 37, of Troy died in November 2014 after the bus turned through a flashing yellow light. LaMay was in a marked crosswalk.
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who argued the case in an Oakland County Circuit court, announced the award in a news release Tuesday, calling last week’s verdict the largest award in the county court system this year.
“I was absolutely outraged by the refusal of SMART to acknowledge that she suffered, the refusal to come forward and pay reasonable damages and the arrogance of SMART,” Fieger said.
“They denied that she suffered at all. They said she was killed instantly. They went to trial admitting that they had run her over but claiming to the jury that she didn’t suffer any pain and that they shouldn’t have to pay a dime under Michigan law.”
Fieger said the jury award, after a weeklong trial and two hours of deliberations, was for “conscious pain and suffering.”
LaMay, he said, left behind two children, Mekenna, 15, and Julian, 11, who were in the courtroom when the verdict was rendered Friday before Oakland County Chief Circuit Judge Nanci Grant.
The children’s father, Fieger said, did not wish to speak on the verdict.
According to the Troy Police Department, the incident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. Nov. 25, 2014, at the intersection of Maplelawn and Crooks. LaMay was in the Maplelawn crosswalk when a bus turning southbound from Crooks struck her.
The driver, James Maholmes, was fired from the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation after being charged with a moving violation causing death, but SMART officials said he was dismissed from the case by the courts prior to trial. He died on Jan. 5.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Sally LaMay and all involved in this unfortunate accident,” said John Hertel, general manager of SMART, in a statement. “We appreciate the deliberations of the jury and their efforts in rendering a very serious decision.”
When asked if SMART would appeal, Beth Gibbons, a spokeswoman with the suburban bus service, said “as with all legal cases, SMART is considering its options.”
Fieger said he hopes SMART doesn’t appeal.
“I hope not,” Fieger said “They’ve got some type of attitude that they are not subject to the same laws as other bus companies.”
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.