NBC New York/APOfficials respond after a bus carrying about 40 students crashed in Wawayanda

Parent of high school marching band student who was injured in fatal New York bus crash files lawsuit against bus company and driver

By Jessica Xing, CNN

(CNN) — A parent whose daughter was one of several high school marching band students injured in a fatal bus crash in upstate New York last week has filed a lawsuit against the bus company and the driver, court records show.

Lawrence Doreson, the father of a 14-year-old Farmingdale High School student, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Regency Transportation Ltd., the company that owns the bus involved in the deadly crash, and Lisa Schaffer, the bus driver, the complaint states.

The lawsuit accuses both the bus company and Schaffer of negligence, saying both parties’ “reckless and careless acts” led to the fatal crash and many students being injured.

Two teachers were killed and several students were injured on September 21 when the bus carrying about 40 students from Long Island careened off Interstate 84, crashing through a guard rail and flipping into a ravine in Wawayanda, New York, CNN previously reported. The students, who were part of the school’s marching band, were on their way to Pennsylvania for a band camp event.

The suit claims, among other things, that Schaffer failed to control the bus, driving at speeds that would cause the bus to “veer off” the road.

The lawsuit also alleges Regency Transportation neglected to properly maintain, repair and inspect their vehicles, allowing the bus to drive in an “unsafe, defective and/or hazardous condition.”

New York State Department of Transportation records show Regency Transportation had failed five out of 15 safety inspections during the state’s 2023 fiscal year, according to department spokesperson Joseph Morrissey.

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Doreson’s daughter sustained “severe and serious personal injuries to her mind and body,” with permanent “disability, disfigurement and loss of body function,” the lawsuit states.

While the student was discharged from the hospital a couple of days ago, she sustained multiple broken bones and scarring to her face, the family’s attorney, Andrew Finkelstein, told CNN.

“This lawsuit is the first step in holding the bus company and their driver accountable for a crash that never should’ve happened and resulted in significant and serious injuries not just to my client, but to every passenger on that bus,” Finkelstein said to CNN Friday.

While no damages were listed in the lawsuit, Finkelstein said the family hopes to seek full recovery for all medical expenses the family has incurred, which includes extensive surgery for their daughter’s facial injuries and monitoring for possible brain damage.

This is the first known lawsuit filed against the bus company and its driver since the crash, according to Finkelstein, who said he is in contact with several other families of students involved in the crash.

Regency Transportation Ltd. and Schaffer did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

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CNN’s Rob Frehse, Artemis Moshtaghian, Christina Maxouris and Emma Tucker contributed to this report.