Choctaw Nation ordered to pay $11M for casino bus crash deaths

The Choctaw Nation owns and operates the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma. Photo from Facebook

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma plans to appeal after being held liable for a fatal casino bus accident in 2013.

Two women died in April 2013 when an independent bus company that took people to and from the Choctaw Casino and Resort in Durant crashed outside of Dallas, Texas. A jury found that the tribe was to blame for the accident by not ensuring that the company followed safety measures.

"The Choctaw Nation can't simply farm out its passengers and other key bus operations without consideration for the safety of its charter bus operators and drivers," attorney Frank L. Branson. who represented one of the victims, said in a press release. "This jury spoke loud and clear, and hopefully this verdict forces the Choctaw Nation to take the safety of North Texas residents seriously. They are the most precious cargo that the Choctaw Casino carries every single day."

The families of the two women were awarded a combined $10.9 million for their losses but the tribe contends mistakes were made during the trial. Attorney Tom Fee told The Dallas Morning News that a key legal issue should not have been left to the jury.

“The driver of the bus was an employee of Cardinal Coach Lines, and the question of whether Cardinal or Choctaw is legally responsible is a question of law — not a question of fact — and should never have been decided by a jury,” Fee told the paper, referring to the company that operated the bus in question.

A third person died in the crash, according to news reports.

Get the Story:
Dallas jury awards $10.9 million to two Choctaw Nation charter bus crash victims (The Dallas Morning News 5/3)
Dallas jury orders Choctaw Nation to pay $11 million in 2013 casino bus crash (The Fort Worth Star-Telegram 5/3)
Texas court orders Choctaw Nation to pay damages for bus crash (The Oklahoman 5/3)
$11 Million Verdict for Fatal Casino Bus Crash (Courthouse News Service 5/3)

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