Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Roach v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

October 6, 2017

ANITA ROACH APPELLANT
v.
DONNA WILSON AND MICHAEL WILSON APPELLEES

         APPEAL FROM CARLISLE CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE TIMOTHY A. LANGFORD, JUDGE ACTION NO. 12-CI-00007

          BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: J. Paul Bradford William E. Pinkston Paducah, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Craig Housman Paducah, Kentucky Stephen D. Gray Henderson, Kentucky

          ORAL ARGUMENT FOR APPELLANT: J. Paul Bradford Paducah, Kentucky

          ORAL ARGUMENT FOR APPELLEE: Craig Housman Paducah, Kentucky

          BEFORE: COMBS, D. LAMBERT AND THOMPSON, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          THOMPSON, JUDGE.

         This case arises from a tragic school bus crash in which a child was killed and several passengers were injured, including Donna Wilson. The driver of the bus, Anita Roach, appeals from a judgment of the Carlisle Circuit Court entered after a jury verdict awarding $1, 910, 347 to Donna and her husband, Michael Wilson. The issues presented concern whether Roach is entitled to fellow-employee immunity pursuant to the Worker's Compensation Act (the Act). Roach argues the trial court erred when it ruled that the claims were not barred by the immunity afforded fellow employees under the Act and challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's findings that Roach was voluntarily intoxicated or that she knowingly and falsely represented her physical condition or medical history on her employment application. We conclude that fellow-employee immunity under the Act does not apply when an employee causes injury as a result of acts outside the scope and course of employment and there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that Roach was voluntarily intoxicated while operating the school bus involved in the crash.

         On May 16, 2011, Roach, an employee of the Carlisle County Board of Education, was driving a school bus on a field trip for elementary students at Carlisle Elementary School when the bus left the roadway and fell into a ravine. Donna was on the bus and also an employee of the Board.

         The buses departed the elementary school sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. and arrived at the first destination, the Paducah Athletic Club, in approximately thirty minutes. After unloading the students and teachers, the bus drivers went to a nearby convenience store. Roach testified that she took a diuretic at the store. Another bus driver, Kathy Meinders, testified she observed Roach take pills but did not know the type of medication.

          After loading the students and teachers back on the bus, the field trip continued to a restaurant. The students, teachers and bus drivers arrived at the restaurant at 11:30 a.m. There was no testimony that Roach engaged in any unusual behavior at the restaurant.

         After lunch, the field trip buses departed for the school. The crash occurred at approximately 1:30 p.m. while the bus traveled on U.S. Highway 62. A witness who followed the bus testified that Roach was not exceeding the speed limit. She observed the bus crest a small hill and then drift off the roadway without swerving. She testified there were no brake lights from the bus.

         Thomas Clifton of the Kentucky State Police investigated the scene. He concluded the bus left the roadway at a steady, gradual four-degree angle. The first place he saw evidence of any steering input was 182 feet further down the roadway from the point where the right front tire of the bus ran off the roadway. He testified that Roach overcorrected causing the bus to slide sideways across the highway and overturn.

         Clifton testified that in an interview, Roach stated there was a deer approaching the highway and she swerved. However, Clifton testified that upon inspection of the surrounding scene, he was unable to find any deer tracks and several witnesses on the roadway at the time of the bus crash did not see any deer immediately before the crash. Clifton, who has training in accident reconstruction and was permitted to testify as an expert in that field, opined that Roach did not attempt to steer the bus back onto the roadway until near the end of the bus's path on the right shoulder. He testified the circumstances of the accident were consistent with a driver dozing off.

         Reconstructionist Jerry Pigman agreed that the bus departed the roadway at a four-degree angle. However, he testified there was evidence of steering input by Roach within a short time after the bus left the roadway. He testified that the evidence at the scene supported Roach's testimony that, to avoid a deer, she turned the bus slightly to the right but inadvertently went off the road. She then turned the wheel sharply to the left causing her to lose control of the bus which then slid across the roadway and rolled clockwise into a deep ditch.

         Witnesses on the bus, including Donna, testified they did not see any deer and testified that the bus did not move in a sudden evasive manner. Donna testified that just prior to the accident, Roach appeared to be in a trance and did not react when the bus left the roadway.

         Much of the evidence at trial concerned whether Roach, who had undergone back surgery and returned to work on March 15, 2010, was under the influence of prescription medications at the time of the accident. Roach had been prescribed Lortab 10's along with Klonopin, Gabapentin and Prozac. There was further evidence that Roach ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.