A Los Angeles woman claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that she was seriously injured while riding a Starline Tours double-decker bus nine months before a teenager died on the same bus line.
Lauren Guerra alleges she was struck in the face by a tree branch while standing on the open-air upper deck of a Starline bus chartered for a private event last Halloween.
The collision broke Guerra's left eye socket, leading to two surgeries and a third one that's planned.
Attorney Brian Kabateck said the death last week of 16-year-old Mason Zisette motivated Guerra to take legal action now.
"My client feels that after her incident, Starline should have done something to change what was happening on the bus," Kabateck said. "As a result of the fact that they made no changes and this poor young man died, she wanted to go public."
The complaint alleges that Guerra and other passengers received no safety warnings about congregating on the bus' upper deck, and that no Starline personnel were on the bus to supervise the party.
"Towards the end of the trip, people were ducking branches and trees, while the driver was going 45 miles per hour," Kabateck said.
Another passenger also was struck by a tree but suffered only minor injuries, he said.
Guerra's lawsuit comes only days after Zisette was killed when his head and hand struck an overpass as he stood on the upper deck of a privately chartered Starline bus traveling on the 405 Freeway.
Kabateck noted that the bus Guerra was traveling on was privately chartered for an event, as was Zisette's. Although the bus line may be aware of height restrictions on its standard tourist routes around Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles, that was not the case for Guerra's trip, he said.
"They have done nothing we've seen to mitigate these injuries. It's almost like they don't know the routes," he said. "There has to be more training and an understanding of the routes they are going to be on."
Legislators should also consider new regulations for double-decker buses traveling in the area, he said.
Starline Tours did not respond to requests for comment.