In Lucas v. MARTA, a homeowner recovered $239K from Atlanta's rapid transit authority after a runaway bus struck a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house at 647 Magnolia, in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 4, 2005.
Anderson Dailey's Michael Alan Dailey described to the jury how the bus rolled backwards while the driver was in a store making a purchase. The bus struck Mr. Lucas's house, knocking it from its foundation, and causing structural damage. The fire department determined that the house was no longer safe to occupy and informed Mr. Lucas that the power and water service would be terminated.
According to Mr. Dailey, MARTA underestimated the required repairs and pressured Mr. Lucas to accept an inadequate repair by threatening to stop paying his temporary living expenses. The delay in repairs, said Mr. Dailey, resulted from MARTA's failure to properly estimate the repairs, not from Mr. Lucas' failure to act on MARTA's repair proposal.
On behalf of Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Mabry & McClelland's Walter McClelland told the jury that MARTA had apologized for the accident and taken responsibility for repairing Mr. Lucas's house right from the start, and the problem was unreasonable demands that weren't based on reliable analysis. For example, Mr. Lucas allegedly asked to have all the windows, plumbing, and wiring in the house replaced in case it was damaged.
According to Mr. McClelland, MARTA offered to begin repairs based on an estimate provided by a reputable contractor, and agreed to pay for additional repairs if additional bus-related damage were discovered. However, because the house had remained vacant for nearly five years, additional deterioration had occurred because Mr. Lucas did not start repairs.
The jury found that MARTA was responsible for $86K in house repairs, plus $30K for Mr. Lucas' living expenses while the house could not be occupied. In addition, the jury determined that MARTA had acted unreasonably or in bad faith in its handling of the case, and awarded an additional $123K in litigation expenses.