LA Jury Hears Openings in Trial Over Metro Bus’ Fatal Collision with Child Cyclist

Posted by David Siegel on Nov 2, 2021 12:43:53 PM

Smith openings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Garo Mardirossian delivering his opening statement

Los Angeles, CA - The parents of a girl who died after being struck on her bike by a metro bus took their case against the bus driver and a transportation services contractor to trial in California state court on Friday, and the proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network. 

Barry and Rose Smith filed their long-running lawsuit against the bus driver, Francine Murphy, and MV Transportation Inc. in 2017 following the death of their daughter Ciara. They blame Murphy and MV Transportation’s supposed negligence for the fatal collision that occurred at the intersection at Pacific Coast Highway and Knobb Hill Avenue.

In his opening argument on behalf of the Smiths, attorney Garo Mardirossian of Mardirossian Akaragian LLP accused MV Transportation of failing to provide Murphy with adequate training, but defense attorney David S. Poole of Poole Shaffery & Koegle LLP blamed the collision on the supposed dangerous condition of the intersection. 

The full trial is being webcast gavel-to-gavel by CVN with live and on-demand video of the proceedings available to video library subscribers, along with hundreds of other civil jury trials featuring top attorneys from throughout California and the rest of the United States. 


Mardirossian made use throughout his opening of a massive scale model of the intersection that spanned nearly the entire well of Judge Stephen Czuleger’s Los Angeles County courtroom. 

He laid the blame for the accident squarely with MV, arguing that they failed to sufficiently train Murphy to drive a large bus that she’d only operated a few times prior safely through a narrow intersection. 

“The evidence will show that when it came to training MV Transport just did not meet their obligation,” Mardirossian said.    

Mardirossian stressed the blame lay with Murphy’s employer, telling jurors she remained as a defendant in the case just for jurisdictional purposes and would likely be dismissed after testifying at the trial. 

“It’s not her fault. It’s MV putting her in that position,” Mardirossian said, concluding his opening statement without asking for a specific amount of damages. 

Poole openings

CVN screenshot of defense attorney David Poole delivering his opening statement

Defense attorney David S. Poole defended the amount of training Murphy received from MV, noting her prior experience as a school bus driver, but he argued the accident was at least partially caused by the City of Redondo Beach and the California Department of Transportation for failing to maintain the intersection, and by the conduct of Ciara herself. 

The Smith’s lawsuit originally included the City of Redondo Beach and Caltrans as defendants, but they were dismissed from the case prior to Friday’s opening statements. 

Poole showed jurors overhead photographs of the intersection from 2011 and 2017 and noted the deterioration of painted lines to delineate the crosswalk. 

“There are no lines letting people know where they’re supposed to cross,” he said.  

Both attorneys, as has become common in most courts resuming jury trials, donned masks throughout their opening statements. Mardirossian wore a mask with a plastic window over the mouth, and Poole wore what appeared to be a standard N95 mask. 

The case is captioned Barry Smith, etc., et al. v. State of California, et al, case number BC680763, in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County.

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Topics: Transportation, California