A Dallas jury found Greyhound Bus Lines negligent in the death of a 25-year-old Seattle man, and awarded the man’s parents $18 million in compensatory damages.
Hunter Brown was killed in June of 2017 when a bus ran over him at a Center Point, Oregon rest stop. The lawsuit claimed the driver did not count his passengers when he left the rest stop, leaving Brown behind.
Passengers said they saw Brown running alongside the bus and knocking on the door, when he fell. The driver made a turn and rolled over Brown, according to the jury verdict. The verdict also concluded the accident could have been prevented, if a driver followed company policies.
“We have such a feeling of relief.” said Brown’s mother, Paula Becker, after arriving back home in Seattle from Dallas, Friday.
“We feel that with this verdict that we’ve brought some dignity back to his very undignified death and gotten justice for him,” she said.
In the Summer of 2017, Brown -- who’d struggled for years with an opioid addiction -- was heading via Greyhound to California, hoping for a fresh start in his life.
At the Center Point rest stop in Oregon, the lawsuit said the bus driver was exhausted and agitated from overwork, and he left the rest stop early. An expert witness on the bus industry testified before the Dallas jury.
"He was asked what's the simplest thing that could've been done to prevent this," said Dr. Barry Brown, Hunter's father. "He said 'That's easy. Driver does a head count? This young man doesn't die."'
The driver was not fined or reprimanded by Greyhound until the lawsuit was filed, even though evidence eventually showed he did not count his passengers before leaving, according to Brown.
“It is completely foreseeable that if you don’t do a headcount, especially if you leave early, people will chase the bus,” he said. “We feel coming back here like a curse that has been weighing upon us for two and a half years, has been lifted.”
“We are so gratified that we will be able to give back to some of the organizations that helped Hunter,” said Becker, who added that Seattle organizations like Youth Care helped their son when he needed shelter and treatment. “This could help other young people like him,” she said, “Because there are a lot of Hunters out there, and we want them all to be taken care of, and we want them to be safe.