The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson prevailed in court last week when a Texas appeals court upheld one of its recent verdicts. A three-judge panel from the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas found that jurors were correct in deciding that the Choctaw Casino was liable for the 2013 crash of a charter bus headed to its casino in Durant, Oklahoma.
The panel rejected 15 separate arguments seeking to reverse the jury’s findings. The court agreed that the tribe was liable for the negligence of the charter bus company, the bus driver and for a group tour coordinator who had arranged the casino trip. According to witness testimony, the crash occurred when the driver lost control while arguing with the group tour coordinator as the bus traveled up State Highway 161 in Irving. Three passengers were killed and more than 40 were injured.
Lead trial counsel from The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson represented the estate and children of 82-year-old Alice Stanley. Attorneys Frank L. Branson, Debbie Branson and Chip Brooker successfully argued that the Choctaw Nation was liable for the crash because the casino exercised control over key aspects of the trip. The jury awarded $4.9 million to Ms. Stanley’s estate and her surviving children, and $6 million to the estate and surviving children of 69-year-old Paula Hahn, who joined the suit as intervenors and were represented by separate legal counsel, ultimately upholding the original $10.9 million verdict. Branson trial team member Eric Stahl handled the appeal for Ms. Stanley’s estate and her children.
“The appellate court was correct in affirming the jury’s verdict in this horrifying crash. This jury carefully listened to all of the testimony and deliberated long and hard to reach its decision,” Branson said on May 31, following the announcement. “Casino operators cannot escape responsibility when they negotiate bus contracts based on the absolute lowest bid without considering the safety of their passengers.”
The case is Choctaw Nation v. Linda Sewell et al., 05-16-01011-CV.