SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 27, 2016/ — Attorneys with the Santa Monica Law Firm Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP announced Monday the $4,020,000 settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of CJ Saraceno, a man killed after he fell out of a party bus and into traffic on the 101 Freeway near Studio City.
Attorneys Christine Spagnoli and Christian Nickerson represented the Saraceno family. The party bus, owned by the Hyros Corporation, was poorly maintained and had been cited by the CHP for safety violations 5 months before the September 2013incident, but was still in operation without repairs even after it was ordered off the road, Spagnoli said.
“The compressor that was supposed to keep the door to the bus closed while it was moving on the freeway wasn’t functional,” Spagnoli said. “They knew or should have known about the problem, didn’t fix it, and it cost CJ Saraceno his life.”
The pneumatic door system that failed is designed to provide enough air pressure to ensure the bus doors remain closed when the vehicle is moving. Discovery revealed that Hyros negligently maintained the bus and its component parts and this failure to safely transport its passengers resulted in a preventable tragedy.
“It’s something that should never have happened,” said Chris Saraceno, father of the 24-year-old victim.
Saraceno had moved to California from his native Connecticut and was working for a digital design agency. He was out celebrating a birthday with friends on the bus, which was traveling south on the 101 Freeway near Universal Studios Drive, the night he was killed. Other passengers on the bus say Saraceno was standing near the front, changing the music on the radio when the bus swerved and Saraceno lost his balance, falling down the stairway and through the door.
Friends tried to grab him as he slipped down the stairway to the exit, and Saraceno attempted to hold on to a handle and the bottom step, but he fell out of the bus onto the freeway and was hit by several cars.
The case exposed the gaps in enforcement of safety regulations for limo companies that maintain and operate these types of vehicles.