CHARLESTON – A former Kanawha Regional Transportation Authority bus driver has sued the company after he was attacked by passengers while on duty.
In the lawsuit filed Jan. 10 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Ronald Jarrell says he was a full-time KRT employee on Jan. 11, 2005, and was driving one of its buses when "he was violently physically attacked by passengers on the bus without provocation from the plaintiff, suffering physical and mental/emotional injuries."
Jarrell claims KRT "knew of the probability of the likelihood of physical injury to the plaintiff and other drivers of their buses (from criminal/intentional physical attacks from passengers) and failed to remedy the obviously dangerous/hazardous work conditions or provide other appropriate safety and/or training."
Jarrell reportedly was attacked by two men who he picked up at the downtown Transit Mall and was taking them to Orchard Manor. He said at the time that the men were unruly. When he dropped them off, one of them blindsided him with a punch to the face. The pair then dragged Jarrell off of the bus onto the concrete and began beating and kicking him.
Another passenger ran off the bus and confronted the attackers. Jarrell reportedly suffered bruised ribs, a broken tooth and facial lacerations.
The suit alleges Jarrell's injuries "were the direct and proximate result of the failure of the defendant to properly train and/or provide even the minimal security to protect these employees … from foreseeable physical attacks by customers of the defendant."
It also is alleged that KRT – through its supervisors, employees and others – "knew of the dangerous conditions (exposures to probable criminal physical attacks) and failed to take any action which (inactivity) significantly increased the substantial risk of serious injury all in violation of specific national industry standards and said inaction was in violation of the West Virginia Law."
The suit, filed by Charleston attorney Henry E. Wood III, says Jarrell lost wages and suffered, continues to suffer and will continue to suffer pain from the injuries, which are permanent in nature. The suit also says Jarrell's physical activities have been limited as a result of the incident and that he has incurred lost wages and medical expenses. Jarrell also says he suffered a permanent physical disabling injury and lost a significant degree of the quality of his life.
He seeks compensatory damages and punitive damages to be determined by a jury as well as attorney fees, court costs and other relief.
It is unclear from the suit if Jarrell returned to work for KRT or if he currently works there.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-38