Another fatal tour bus crash, another bus with a history of maintenance problems

by Jay Pate

At least eight people were killed and 38 injured earlier this month when a tour bus careened out of control while traveling down a Southern California mountain road, struck a car, flipped and plowed into a pickup truck. The accident occurred about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. The bus rear-ended a sedan and flipped, then struck a pickup truck pulling a trailer. The bus driver survived and told investigators the bus suffered brake problems as it headed down the mountain.

The bus was owned and operated by Scapadas Magicas LLC, a company based in National City, Califorinia. The bus had departed Tijuana at 5 a.m. for a day of skiing at Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. The trip was being run by InterBus Tours. According to a manager for InterBus Tours, “The information that we have is that the bus’ brakes failed and the accident occurred.”

It turns out that the bus involved in the crash had been cited repeatedly in recent months for poor maintenance. According to the Los Angeles Times, Scapadas Magicas was cited in October for eight deficiencies found during a roadside check of the vehicle. The deficiencies included a damaged windshield, lack of a properly installed fire extinguisher and other problems. In July, the same bus was cited for a damaged windshield, as well as a faulty axle and brakes. In May, its wheel fasteners were loose or missing. As a result of the findings from roadside inspections, the Transportation Department had placed Scapadas Magicas on a watch list that prioritized its buses for intervention and roadside inspection.

HOP and Bus Crash Lawsuits

To successfully bring a claim involving a bus crash, clients need an experienced, educated attorney on their side. They also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried literally hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several years in a row.*

Heygood, Orr & Pearson partner Eric D. Pearson represented the family of Nick Stout, a teenage boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury when the bus he was taking to church camp slammed into a concrete bridge abutment in East Texas, killing four and injuring dozens. Evidence showed that the driver of the bus, Ernest Carter, was under the influence of cocaine and valium at the time of the crash. He was also suffering from fatigue due to his failure to adhere to government regulations relating to maximum hours and minimum rest periods.

The evidence also showed that Defendant Eric Rockmore, owner of Discovery Tours, falsified documents to cover up Carter’s rules violations. Following a three week trial, the jury in the 14th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded the Stout family more than $36 million.

If you have been seriously injured, or someone you know has been hurt or killed, in a bus crash, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out if you may have a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free online case evaluation form.


Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.