In Sept., a jury awarded $5.25M in similar case

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

A new lawsuit was filed in district court recently against a bus driver who allegedly exposed several Alice High School band students to tuberculosis on a band trip in 2004.

The lawsuit was filed by John Vela Jr. in the 79th District Court on Feb. 11, against Raul Garcia and Garcia Holiday Tours, L.C.

According to court documents, on April 30, 2004, the Alice Independent School District contracted with Garcia Holiday Tours, L.C. to transport members of the Alice High School Band on a field trip to Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio.

The lawsuit alleged that, unknown to plaintiffs, the bus driver, Garcia, was actively infected with tuberculosis at the time of the trip.

The lawsuit alleged negligence on the part of Garcia for failing to contain his tuberculosis, negligence on the part of Garcia Holiday Tours, L.C. for not screening Garcia, and malice against both defendants for not protecting the plaintiffs from the risk of exposure. Vela seeks damages including physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, physical impairment and medical care.

In September, a Jim Wells County jury awarded $5.25 million to seven individuals who filed a lawsuit against the same company alleging the same charges.

The jury awarded $125,000 for physical pain and past mental anguish and $625,000 in future mental anguish for each of the seven plaintiffs in that case.

That lawsuit was filed in district court March 4, 2005. Plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit included Oscar Perez II, Danielle Calhoun, Adriana Riojas, Juan Gabriel Gonzalez, Marisol Salazar, Roel Guerra Jr. and Maria E. Guerra.