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Suits over fatal bus fire settled: $80m

Associated Press / June 5, 2009
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HOUSTON - The families of 23 nursing home patients who died in a bus explosion as they fled Hurricane Rita have reached settlements totaling $80 million.

The victims were residents of Brighton Gardens, a Houston-area assisted-living community that bused residents north as Rita approached the Texas coast in 2005.

The vehicle was engulfed in flames and smoke after a rear wheel caught fire on a freeway near Dallas, killing those too frail to escape the bus on their own. Fourteen passengers survived.

Lawyers for the families say defendants who have settled include the bus company, the nursing home, and the bus manufacturer.

Lawsuits against several remaining defendants, including the charter company and bus driver, are scheduled for trial in September.