Crime & Justice

Starline Tours bus company sued by injured woman

Photo by Joe Philipson via Flickr Creative Commons

A woman who claims she suffered a fractured skull and eye injuries when she was struck by a tree branch while standing on the upper deck of a Starline Tours bus in Venice filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the bus company.

Lauren Guerra's lawsuit against Starline Tours seeks unspecified damages, although she contends she has already incurred about $20,000 in medical costs to treat her injuries.

Starline officials could not be reached for immediate comment on the lawsuit, which was filed less than a week after 16-year-old Mason Zisette of Manhattan Beach died from injuries suffered when his head struck a freeway overpass while on a Starline bus.

"After hearing about what happened to Mason and realizing that this company did nothing to prevent this from happening and having my face broken on the bus, they didn't take any steps to make sure that this didn't happen again and this death could have completely been prevented, is infuriating and incredibly upsetting to me," Guerra said.

Guerra, 35, said she was injured in October while riding a bus with a group of friends on Venice Boulevard.

"Pretty much everybody who was invited on the bus was on the top of the bus, beyond seating capacity," she said. "There were times when people had to duck under branches. I stood up at the wrong time and I got taken out at about 45 miles an hour by a rather large tree branch that shattered the bottom of my eye socket and also damaged the lower muscle of my eye."

Her attorney, Brian Kabateck, said Zisette's death on Saturday precipitated the lawsuit filed Wednesday.

"The reason we're filing this lawsuit today, even though my client hasn't completed her course of treatment and has by no way resolved the problems is because of the event that occurred this past week, with the young man who was killed on the same type bus with the same defendant," he said.

Zisette, who played on the tennis team at Mira Costa High School, was standing on the upper deck of a Starline bus around 7:45 p.m. last Thursday when his head struck an overpass on the 405 Freeway in El Segundo.

Zisette was knocked unconscious and hospitalized at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, where he died Saturday.