$7 million awarded to German tourist who was injured on bus
By Jace Radke
LAS VEGAS SUN
A German tourist who was paralyzed after the tour bus he was riding in made a sudden stop was awarded $7.33 million by a federal court jury Wednesday.
Werner Umbreit, 67, was injured on March 9, 2001, aboard a bus operated by Superior Tour Services, a Nevada-based company now out of business.
Umbreit and his traveling companion were on the bus that was scheduled to travel to Hoover Dam when the bus driver hit the brakes sending Umbreit, who had been standing up, flying, said Rob Murdock, Umbreit’s attorney.
“The bus driver had made an announcement and Umbreit got up to go to the back of the bus and translate the announcement for his traveling companion who didn’t speak English,” said Murdock, who worked on the case with attorney Marty Keach.
“The driver admitted that he didn’t tell Umbreit to sit down, when he got up.”
Umbreit, who lives in Berlin, suffered fractured vertebrae and now has no use of his legs and very little use of his arms, Murdock said.
The jury trial before U.S. District Judge Philip Pro lasted eight days and resulted in the judgment that will be paid through insurance money, Murdock said.
The suit also named the bus driver, John J. Campolo, as a defendant and alleged that negligence on his part and the part of the company resulted in Umbreit’s injuries.
Another suit filed in federal court in 2003 asks for more than $2 million for Umbreit’s injuries from the bus distributor, ABC Bus Leasing Inc., and the manufacturer Van Hool Nevada, a Belgium company.
The second suit alleges that there was a lack of obvious handholds in the bus for passengers who stood up, and that there were inadequate safety markings and signage.
Discovery in the suit against the bus distributor and manufacturer has been completed — meaning depositions have been completed and the two sides have gathered all the information they need for the trial — but a trial date has not yet been set, Murdock said.