A lawsuit resulting from a Jeanerette school bus accident in 2009 likely will exhaust the St. Mary Parish School Board’s insurance for such cases, causing the board to be responsible for picking up any excess costs.
That was the information revealed by School Board President Roland Verret following an executive session Thursday to discuss Luis, Bobbye and Noah Castaneda versus Clegis Poledore, State Farm Insurance and the St. Mary Parish School Board.
At the time of the accident, the school board carried $1 million liability coverage regarding the bus accident. The individual bus driver also carried $100,000 in his insurance plan.
According to the suit, the accident occurred on Oct. 8, 2009, around 7:20 a.m. when Poledore was driving his 1997 GMC Bluebird school bus northbound on Moresi Road near the intersection of U.S. 90. As he crossed the eastbound lanes of U.S. 90, he entered the median and continued north across the westbound lanes of the highway without yielding to the Castaneda vehicle.
The front of the bus struck the driver’s side of the Castaneda vehicle in the westbound lanes of U.S. 90.
The suit charges Poledore with nine counts of negligence including failure to exercise due care and caution, to yield to traffic, to avoid the accident and others. It charges the school board with failing to properly supervise and/or instruct its employees on safe and responsible work practices. Also it states that “all acts of negligence of defendant, Clegis Poledore, are imputed to defendant, St. Mary Parish Schools.”
The suit indicates Luis Castaneda was the physically injured party, suffering injuries to his head, arms, legs, neck, chest, back, pelvis, spine, hip, femur and other injuries. His wife and child are suing for loss of consortium, affection and support.
The school board has retained Al Bordelon of the Bordelon and Theriot Law Firm of Baton Rouge, pending state Attorney General’s Office approval, for defense in the case.
Bordelon was authorized to assist the school board regarding any lawsuit higher than the insurance threshold. Board attorney Eric Duplantis will be sending a school board resolution to the Attorney General's Office to get their approval regarding the hiring of Bordelon. Last month, the board did something similar for attorney Mike Duran who is representing the school board regarding an issue with an oil lease.
The suit is filed in 16th Judicial District Court. A telephone conference is set for Nov. 7 to set a trial date.