Two lawsuits arising from fatal KCK party bus crash are settled

08/18/2014 12:06 PM

08/20/2014 2:26 PM

Resolutions have been reached in two lawsuits that were filed after a woman fell to her death from a moving party bus last year in Kansas City, Kan.

Attorneys for the family of Jamie Frecks said Monday that they could not disclose the amount of the settlement that had been reached involving one of the two corporate defendants.

A judge last month entered judgments of more than $6.78 million against other defendants in the case, according to court documents filed in Wyandotte County District Court.

But only part of that judgment against Midnight Express, the company that operated the bus, has been paid, said David Morantz, one of the attorneys for the Frecks family.

Morantz said the family was considering further legal action against the insurance agency and the broker who allegedly insured Midnight Express for less than the amount that federal trucking regulations require.

Frecks, 26, was among a group of women celebrating a friend’s bachelorette party on May 4, 2013, when the bus hit a bump while rounding a curve on Interstate 35 in Kansas City, Kan. Frecks fell from side double doors that a previous bus owner had used to accommodate wheelchair passengers.

According to the lawsuits, Midnight Express bought the used vehicle in 2010 and made “extensive modifications” that included removing a wheelchair lift from in front of those doors.

On the night that Frecks died, the bus driver had unlatched the double doors so a cooler could be loaded onto the bus, according to the lawsuits. She then closed the doors while the passengers entered through a front door.

Frecks was standing by the doors when they “suddenly and unexpectedly flew open” and she fell out onto the highway, where she was struck by at least three vehicles, according to the lawsuits.

Safety experts who examined the doors determined that the removal of the wheelchair lift created a safety hazard and the doors were not properly latched on the night of the accident, according to court documents.

In his ruling last month, Wyandotte County District Judge William Mahoney found that the owners and operators of Midnight Express were negligent and responsible for Frecks’ fall from the bus.

Turf Design, the other company subject to the undisclosed settlement, had some of the same owners as Midnight Express.

An attorney for the defendants did not immediately return a call Monday morning seeking comment. Members of the Frecks family did not want to comment publicly.

“Jamie’s family thanks the media for respecting their privacy and for shedding light on the importance of enforcing party bus safety regulations,” their attorneys said in a written statement.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

Videos

Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service