A wrongful death lawsuit filed Wednesday in Fulton County said a Greyhound bus driver ignored signs that a passenger was suffering from a medical emergency and kept driving to Atlanta, where she died shortly after getting off.
According to the complaint and filing attorney Jonathan Johnson, 58-year-old Robin Shelby and her 11-year-old grandson boarded a bus in San Diego in July 2017 to attend a family reunion in Monroe, Georgia.
Other than getting off at scheduled stops for bathroom and meal breaks, Shelby and her grandson were on the bus the entire time, Johnson said.
By the time the bus stopped in Birmingham, Shelby was experiencing trouble breathing and alerted the driver and Greyhound staff at the station.
“They told the family that they called 911, and that’s what Greyhound reported to us, but we haven’t been able to confirm it,” said Johnson. “I’ve written to numerous 911 providers in Birmingham, and nobody has a record of it.”
When it was time for the bus to continue on to Atlanta, Shelby was told she could either board or wait for the one that came through the next day, Johnson said.
Eager to see her relatives in Georgia, Shelby and her grandson continued on the three-hour trip to Atlanta, but she again began experiencing shortness of breath on the way, he said.
Shelby reportedly told the driver she was unwell, but he did not stop or call 911, the complaint said.
Upon arrival in Atlanta, Shelby got off the bus still in distress.
“Our clients said they were told she was shoved off of the bus,” said Johnson. “She was sitting in a chair when he left to get her some water.”
Shelby was unresponsive when he returned and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead on July 19, 2017.
The complaint said the cause of death was determined to be a pulmonary embolism “due to deep vein thrombosis of lower extremities due to prolonged immobilization.”
It is “common knowledge to motor carriers that prolonged immobilization from traveling for an extended period of time can cause deep vein thrombosis and the fatal consequences thereof, even for otherwise healthy people,” said the complaint, filed by Johnson and S.K. Rod Dixon and Daniel Adamson of The Dixon Firm.
Johnson said Shelby had minor health issues but “nothing life-threatening.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “anyone traveling more than four hours, whether by air, car, bus, or train, can be at risk for blood clots.”
Shelby’s grandson is still traumatized by her death, Johnson said.
The complaint was filed in Fulton County State Court on behalf of Shelby’s three daughters and names Greyhound Lines Inc., the bus line’s Southern hub manager Jerdine Costict, and the “John Doe” bus driver as defendants.
It includes claims for negligence, negligent training and supervision, and wrongful death.
Johnson said that, for common carriers such as airlines or bus lines, “the greatest duty is for the fare-paying passenger. They have a duty to act reasonably when a passenger is in respiratory distress, they have a duty to call for assistance.”
Johnson said he and his co-counsel “tried to initiate pre-litigation discussions with Greyhound, but they didn’t express any interest. Nothing you’d consider serious.”
A Greyhound spokeswoman said there would be no comment on the pending litigation.