Thursday, December 25, 2014

Jury awards $14 million to victim of Pennsbury bus crash

Verdict expected to be changed to $500,000 to comply with state liability cap for schools and municipalities.

Jury awards $14 million to victim of Pennsbury bus crash

Ashley Zauflik outside courtroom last week. (Bill Reed/Staff)
Ashley Zauflik outside courtroom last week. (Bill Reed/Staff)

A Bucks County jury awarded $14 million Monday to Ashley Zauflik, the former Pennsbury High School student who was run over by a bus in 2007, resulting in the loss of her left leg.

The jury of eight women and four men voted unanimously to award the Fairless Hills woman $2.9 million for past and future medical costs and $11.1 million for pain, suffering and disfigurement.

Minutes after the verdict, Zauflik stood on her right leg and hugged relatives, friends and her lead lawyer, Thomas Kline, while she smiled through her tears.

But there’s no guarantee the 21-year-old woman will collect $14 million, because of a $500,000 state cap limiting the general liability for school districts and municipalities.  The verdict will probably be appealed by the school district in the next few days, Kline said, and Judge Robert J. Mellon will institute the cap amount.

“We’re on the road to the Superior Court and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,” Kline said after the four-day civil trial. “There’s no more worthy a case than a youngster, an innocent victim in a schoolyard accident, decided by a conservative jury. They considered the verdict down to the pennies.”

Pennsbury’s lawyer, David Cohen, has declined to discuss the case throughout the trial.

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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