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Posted: September 5, 2013 9:10 p.m.

Suit filed in school bus accident

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The father of two children who were among 40 people sent to the hospital after a two-bus accident in January has filed a lawsuit against the Newton County Board of Education and former superintendent Gary Mathews.

Jimmy Coglianese filed suit on June 12 in the Superior Court of Newton County, on behalf of his daughters, Olivia and Angelina Coglianese, and "all others similarly situated."

The lawsuit lists former Newton County Schools’ superintendent Gary Mathews, and Board of Education members Jeff Meadors, Eddie Johnson, Shakila Henderson-Baker, Almond Turner and Abigail Coggin as the defendants in the case.

The lawsuit claims the Newton County School System was "negligent in causing the collision, either directly or vicariously through its bus driver."

The Jan. 22 accident happened as bus driver Gloria Inscore, 55, was headed north on Ga. Highway 162 and a second bus stopped in front of her to deliver a student. Inscore failed to slow and struck the other bus. She was cited by the Georgia State Patrol for following too closely, and was fired by the school system in February.

The Coglianeses’ attorney, Salvatore Serio, who has law offices in Conyers, claims in the lawsuit that, as a result of the collision between the two buses, Olivia and Angelina Coglianese and other children on the buses were injured.

The lawsuit further says that the Newton County Board of Education was "responsible for maintaining the school bus in proper operating condition; for hiring, training and maintaining proper drivers; and for the overall operations" and that the Board’s "negligence is a proximate cause of the collision."

According to the lawsuit, Coglianese filed action to "recover for the pain and suffering, medical expenses, punitive damages, and injuries sustained by his children."

Coglianese has filed class-action status so that "all persons who were riding on either of the school buses in question who were injured in the incident" can be included as plaintiffs in the case.

Sherri Davis-Viniard, NCSS director of public relations, said in a statement Thursday that the school system is "aware of the lawsuit; however, as this is pending litigation, we are unable to provide any information at this time."

Phillip Hartley, an attorney with Harben, Hartley & Hawkins in Gainesville, representing the BOE and former superintendent Mathews, said the lawsuit is "just a regular bus litigation."

"It’s just a typical lawsuit that we would expect to arise out of that kind of bus wreck," Hartwell said. 

Hartwell said legal defenses and responses to specific paragraphs of the complaints in the Coglianese lawsuit will be filed before Sept. 8.

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