Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chestnut having tough time with transportation-related civil lawsuits

Attorney Christopher Chestnut has shown lots of confidence every time the media has questioned him about the civil lawsuit that Robert Champion, Jr.’s family asked him to file against Fabulous Coach Lines.

But Chestnut also showed lots of confidence about his work for the transportation-related civil lawsuit cases of Delvonte Tisdale’s family and Erin Pelton’s family.

On March 5, a judge tossed out a lawsuit that the Tisdale family filed against the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. The Tisdales hired Chestnut to represent them.

Delvonte Tisdale was a 16-old who is suspected of sneaking into the wheel well of a US Airways airplane that took off from the Charlotte airport and landed in Boston, Massachusetts. Officials discovered his body lying on the property of Logan International Airport in Boston in November of 2010.

According to Fox News Charlotte, the judge who dismissed the case “agreed that (1) nothing suggests that the City acted willfully or wantonly, the legal standard for a land owner to be liable to a trespasser such as Mr. Tisdale; (2) by allegedly entering a secured area and climbing into the wheel well, Mr. Tisdale was himself negligent; and (3) in providing security at the airport, the City owes a duty of care to the general public, and not to those who, like Mr. Tisdale, seek to breach security.”

The judge, Hugh Lewis, also dismissed the Tisdale family’s lawsuits against US Airways and the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Back in 2012, a lawsuit Chestnut filed on behalf of the family of Erin Pelton was dropped. Pelton was a Gainesville pedestrian who was killed by a car after she got off a local bus. The lawsuit sought more than $200,000 in damages from the City of Gainesville.

The Gainesville Sun reported that “the case was dropped after a late March court-ordered mediation session, and the city will pay out no compensation, according to the City Attorney's Office.”

City Attorney Marion Radson told Gainesville commissioners the defense team argued that, according to Florida law, the city “no legal duty to protect a former passenger after the former passenger safely disembarks the city bus.”

Chestnut is representing Champion’s parents in their lawsuit against Fabulous Coach Lines. A report by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) concluded that Champion, a member of the FAMU Marching 100, died after he “willingly participated” in an illegal hazing ritual aboard a Fabulous Coach Lines bus on November 19, 2011.

The Champion family’s lawsuit alleges that driver Wendy Millette stood guard outside the bus on which their son was being hazed. They also claim that she “forced” him back onto vehicle when he came out the bus door to vomit.

But the OCSO and state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida have not announced any plans to arrest Millette for false imprisonment or any other crime related to Champion’s death.

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