Fatal school bus crash: Hospitalized student’s family sues trucking company

The parents of one of 43 Paramus middle school students injured in a school bus crash that claimed the lives of a student and a teacher last month are suing the Belleville-based owners of a dump truck that collided with the bus, claiming negligent actions by the truck driver contributed to the crash.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in state Superior Court against Belleville-based Mendez Trucking, said Asher Amir Majeed suffered “severe, grievous, permanent and painful injuries,” for which he remains hospitalized.

An NJ Advance Media reporter previously viewed Department of Transportation video of the crash that appeared to show the dump truck swerving in an attempt to avoid hitting the bus, which was attempting a U-turn via a cut-through in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80 in Mount Olive.

The driver of the dump truck has not previously been accused of wrongdoing in the crash.

The 77-year-old driver of the school bus, which was taking students from East Brook Middle School on a field trip to Waterloo Village in Sussex County, has since been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide in the deaths of Miranda Vargas, a 10-year-old student, and Jennifer Williamson, a 51-year-old teacher.

The bus driver, Hudy Muldrow Sr., has been released from jail pending indictment after surrendering his driver’s license.

But the complaint alleges the driver of the dump truck — named in the complaint only as “John Doe (1-10)” — contributed to the crash by driving the truck in a negligent and careless manner, failing to make “proper observations” and failing to maintain a safe speed.

The family is being represented by attorney Bruce Nagel of the Roseland-based firm Nagel Rice —  a high-profile civil litigator with a lengthy track record of multi-million dollar jury awards and settlements.

Nagel told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday that the family also has given notice of their plans to sue the Paramus School District after the six-month waiting period required by state law for litigation against a public entity.

The lawsuit seeks damages in an amount to be determined by the court.

Reached by phone, an attorney for Mendez Trucking said the company had not received or seen a copy of the complaint as of Wednesday evening.

The attorney, Bryan Schwartz, said the company would respond to the complaint but that he could not comment further.

Tom Troncone contributed to this report.

Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty.

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