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9 year-old Chase Brubaker was killed at the Disney Fort Wilderness Lodge last April. Brubaker was on his bicycle and wearing a helmet, moving along near the sidewalk just before the collision. Moments later Brubaker would meet his tragic end when a Disney bus struck Brubaker and pulled him under its wheels. The driver, David R. Rich, has also been named as a party in the Disney bus death suit. His mother has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Wrongful death is the taking of another person's life as a result of a willful or negligent act. When a wrongful death occurs, the heirs and other beneficiaries can bring a civil action for wrongful death. A wrongful death action requires that the plaintiff prove a lower level of guilt compared to the prosecution in a criminal action. For the plaintiff to prevail in a wrongful death action, they must prove their case upon a preponderance of the evidence. The standard is much higher in a criminal case: beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to the lawsuit filed in Orlando Circuit court, pedestrians are often forced to use the street instead of the sidewalk due to poor sidewalk conditions. In addition, the attorney for Brubaker argues that the Disney bus death was foreseeable, as contact between a pedestrian and a bus could be anticipated due to the nature of the roadway" The Orlando Sentinel reports that the lawsuit alleges that the defendants, "...owed a duty of care to its invitees...to ensure that the bus system was operated such that it was free from hazards that were reasonably foreseeable to cause death or serious injuries."
Disney spokeswoman Zoraya Suarez said the driver was not at fault, but acknowledged that, "it doesn't lessen the sadness we feel for the Brubaker family."