Judge awards $300,000 in school bus death
LAFAYETTE — The attorney for the father awarded $300,000 in his son’s 2011 school bus dragging death said his client, Marcus Miller, will appeal the judgment handed down in a bench trial.
“The judgment was extremely too low,” attorney Derriel McCorvey said.
Miller’s son, La’Derion Miller was a kindergarten pupil at Milton Elementary when on March 14, 2011, he was dragged by a Lafayette Parish school bus and crushed beneath the wheels. The child was air-lifted to a hospital, where he died from his injuries.
La’Derion Miller’s parents, who were never married, filed separate lawsuits in May 2011 seeking wrongful death and survivor awards.
McCorvey said the Lafayette Parish school system settled the lawsuit brought by La’Derion Miller’s mother, Heather Dawn Jagneaux, for more than $700,000.
But Marcus Miller’s lawsuit went to trial this past week with state Judge Kristian Earles presiding in a bench trial, 15th District Court records show.
Earles awarded Miller $250,000 for the wrongful death claim and $50,000 for the survivor action claim, records show.
McCorvey said testimony during the trial was hard to listen to.
“(Earles) dealt with a very difficult case … but we respectfully disagree with Judge Earles’ decision” to award $300,000, he said.
Efforts to contact the School Board’s attorney, Dawn Morris, on Friday afternoon for comment were unsuccessful.
According to court minutes of the trial, seven witnesses testified, including the bus driver who was at the wheel the morning La’Derion Miller was killed.
Harold Thibeaux was a school bus driver for 23 years before he retired months after LaDerion was killed. The retirement also came days before a Lafayette Parish School Board decision on whether to fire Thibeaux, who was a defendant in both lawsuits.
Thibeaux was not charged with a crime after the death, records show.
McCorvey said the School Board offered Marcus Miller a settlement that did not approach the more than $700,000 the boy’s mother, Jagneaux, received.
The attorney would not say what the settlement offer to Miller was.
McCorvey said the $300,000 judgment awarded Wednesday was more than the settlement offer.
The lawsuit filed by Morris claims his son was dragged 80 feet before being run over by the rear wheel of the bus.
“(La’Derion) survived the initial injuries, but died sometime afterwards,” the suit states.