Texas State Student Victim of Wrongful Death

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Lawsuit update 1/8/2018: A second suit filed when bus company lied to insurance

A lawsuit was filed last week claiming that the bus company that dragged and killed Jordin Taylor lied in order to gain and keep insurance on their vehicles.

The lawsuit involves the Manufacturers Alliance Insurance Company (MAICO) against their insured, B&B Transportation.

In the lawsuit, MAICO claims that B&B misled staff to believe that they did not operate party buses when applying for insurance. The lawsuit says that B&B led a MAICO inspector to inspect a different bus, in an effort to avoid raised flags “if the 2277 bus with ‘Skyline Party Bus’ signage was inspected for B&B,” reads the lawsuit.

In the insurance application, B&B also allegedly denied the company’s ownership interest in any other public transportation company. B&B manager Brandon Burleson owns and operates at least two other public transportation companies – Skyline Party Bus and San Marcos Tours. The lawsuit says the ownership of multiple public transportation increases the potential for liability. “For example, it increases the potential for a vehicle to be placed on the wrong transportation company’s vehicle schedule.”

Jordin Taylor become stuck on the wheel of the party bus during a fraternity party at Cool River Ranch, five miles southeast of downtown San Marcos.

Following Taylor’s death, Texas State suspended activity at four fraternities. More recently the university suspended all Greek life activity following the death of a sophomore pledge for Phi Kappa Psi who died at an off-campus event held by the fraternity. It is suspected that alcohol may have been a factor in the student, Matthew Ellis’ death.

UPDATE 10/2017
As we gear up for Halloween, the seasonal activities are another reminder for those close to Texas State student, Jordin Taylor, of her tragic death. A year after the accident, we take a look what actions the greek life, university, and businesses are doing to prevent another death.

In April, 14 businesses and organizations were named in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the father of Jordin Taylor. The lawsuit filed claims negligence and gross negligence. According to the lawsuit, there were between 2,000 and 3,000 people that attended the party Halloween weekend.

The lawsuit claims that for the number of people in attendance, there was a limited number of security personnel. They also site issues such as reckless driving by bus drivers, inadequate lighting, and a poorly designed bus route to transport party goers to and from the event.

Those named in the lawsuit are:

  • Skyline Party Bus Co., LLC
  • Burleson SMTX Properties, LLC
  • Brandon Burleson
  • B&B Shuttles, LLC
  • VCD San Marcos River, LLC
  • Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity
  • Alpha Zeta Theta Chapter
  • Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity
  • Kappa Alpha Order Epsilon Iota
  • Delta Tau Delta Fraternity
  • Delta Tau Delta Zeta Delta Chapter

Skyline Party Bus Co., LLC: remains in full operation following the incident and lawsuit. When contacted by news stations, the company directs requests for comment to Dallas-based attorney Daniel Beuchler who has not responded for comment.

Cool River Ranch maintains operations in San Marcos and was the site of annual festival, Float Fest. Festival organizers reportedly increased emergency personnel and security officers in 2017.

Four fraternities suspended

  • Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity voluntarily suspended operations at Texas State University in early Nov. 2016. On Jan. 6 the fraternity was suspended for two years by a student justice panel in the Office of Student Involvement. Pi Kappa Alpha as appealed the suspension.
  • Alpha Tau Omega has been suspended for three years. Alpha Tau Omega indefinitely suspended all undergraduate fraternity members at Texas State University.
  • Kappa Alpha Order has been suspended for four years.
  • Delta Tau Delta has been suspended for five years.
  • More information about the status of 14 entities named in the lawsuit.
San Marcos, Texas – Investigators say a Texas State University student, Jordin Taylor, was struck and dragged under a shuttle bus located in Martindale, Texas. Authorities say the bus belonged to Skyline Party Bus and was stored at Cool River Ranch for a fraternity party.

Taylor was attending a party hosted by Texas State fraternities held at Cool River Ranch. One attendee stated that the event ended at around 11:30 p.m. on October 28.

Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office say they were called out to Cool River Ranch southeast of San Marcos at 1:09 p.m. on Oct. 29. The call came Sat. afternoon when a mechanic found the body of the 20-year-old student.

Authorities say the body was found under the rear axle of the bus. Investigations report that Taylor was dragged more than 500 feet after initially being struck by the bus.

Reports indicate that a malfunctioning braking system occurred at around 11:15 p.m. One of the shuttle buses lost its air braking system, and a bus supervisor instructed the driver to leave the bus where it stopped and transfer to another bus.

The case is being investigated as a wrongful death, murder is not suspected. Skyline Party Bus is involved in the investigations. The company has had five safety violations and been involved in two crashes since last year. In one report, authorities say they believe the bus’ mechanical problems were a result of the collision with the student. However, in contrast to that statement from Guadalupe County officials, Skyline Party buses had history of unsafe braking systems and a record of violations. On a single day in April 2016, the company received two violations for a bus’ braking system. First that the the bus was was not equipped with an anti-lock brake system. Second that the bus had a defective brake warning device.

Wrongful Death Leaves Many Questions Unanswered

Local news reporter Lauren Lanmon wrote that the Skyline Party Bus company has not responded to outreach by phone or email. According to the company’s Facebook page, they are still in operation.

Greek students are advised not to speak on the matter, according to local news source KXAN. Two fraternities hosted the party, Pi Kappa Alpha and Alpha Tao Omega. Texas State official Matt Flores says the off-campus event was registered through the university. However both fraternities are being investigated by the University to ensure that they followed all Greek organization rules and regulations.

Cool River Ranch, where the party was held, has released a statement saying “Our thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Taylor’s family and friends during this difficult time. At the time, this matter remains under investigation. We are fully cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation of this tragic event.”

Witnesses stated that authorities were searching for a missing person around 1:00 a.m. on Saturday October 29.

Life of Jordin Taylor Remembered by Many

Taylor was a freshman at Texas State University majoring in respiratory care. She grew up and went to high school in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

Taylor was a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. The organization has halted all operations following this tragic event.

A friend who spoke with the media remembers Taylor as one of the sweetest, kindhearted and loving individuals they had ever met.

“Jordin had an amazing personality that could light up a room and was loved by all. She was truly an amazing person and will be missed very much.”

She is survived by her father, Joey Taylor, sister Ashtin Taylor and broth Dustin Taylor. She was preceded in death by her mother, Kara Taylor, who passed away unexpectedly from a brain tumor in 2012.

On Nov. 3 members of Taylor’s sorority released balloons in remembrance of her life and time in the sorority. Those involved said it was a way to release their own hurt, but not forget the life of Jordin.

Austin, San Marcos Wrongful Death Representation

No one will ever be able to explain the senselessness of Ms. Taylor’s death. Losing a loved one can be devastating, but when their death is caused by the negligence or deliberate actions of another, recovery can be an even more challenging experience. That is just one reason why wrongful death litigation can be complex.

Compensation will never return the life of a loved one. A claim for wrong death a way for families hurt by companies to hold them accountable for recklessness that caused their pain, distress and suffering.

Jason McMinn and Justin McMinn are not involved in this case.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Taylor.