You all have heard a lot of testimony today—you’ve heard from eye
witnesses and experts. And yes, all of the evidence in this case is extremely
important. But as you go back into that room to make your decision today, I
ask that you not forget about the center of this case. And that’s 12 year-old
Rebecca McGee and the avoidable circumstances that led to her death.
Mr. and Mrs. McGee entrusted the defendant with their two little girls.
They believed that their daughters would be safe---not because they thought
that their daughters were invincible—but because they believed that the
school would lookout for them. The McGee’s believed that when their
daughters were faced with possible harm, the defendant would do all that it
could to protect them. But as the evidence has shown, the defendant failed
to do so. The defendant failed the McGee’s, and because of this, their
daughter is dead.
First of all, it’s important that you understand why the defendant, the
Dallas County School Board is responsible here. As the employer of
Principal Burchhill and Chris Allman, the P.E. teacher who was driving that
school bus on October 8, 2004, they are responsible for their negligence—as
long as those actions were committed during the course and scope of that
Now, the defendant has painted a picture that really consists of
nothing more than a bunch of pointing fingers. But the facts in this case all
point back to them. Fact: in order to legally drive a school bus in Dallas
County, you must have a chauffeur’s license. Fact: Chris Allman does not
have such a license, nor did he on the day in question. Principal Burchhill
knew that, but he still placed the keys to that school bus, as well as the lives
of those children, into his hands. Fact: Rather than go onto the school’s
website and print out a copy of the published school bus route, Chris Allman
chose to rely on a hand-drawn map—that he couldn’t even read!!! Fact:
When trying to decide whether to turn left and let the girls off the bus right
in front of their home so that wouldn’t have to cross any lanes of traffic or
whether to turn right and allow the girls to cross six lanes of traffic and a
five foot median, Mr. Allman chose to turn right. Why? Because he was
hungry, and there was a Sonic to his right. It was poor and careless
decisions such as this one that led to the death of Rebecca McGee.
Now, the defendant points to other facts as the cause of this tragedy—
things called intervening causes. Yes, Rebecca made the spur of the
moment decision to walk out into the highway. But Rebecca was only 12
years old. Every other day, she and her little sister were let off the school
bus so that they wouldn’t have to make that kind of decision. Should we
really blame the victim, here? Is it really okay to send a 12 year old and her
younger sister out into the street to fend for themselves? Certainly not. Yes,
it’s also true that it was Dana Dalton’s car that actually struck Rebecca. But
you’ve heard expert testimony that there was nothing more Dana Dalton
could have done. Dana Dalton was not speeding, couldn’t have swerved.
By the time Dana Dalton entered the picture, there was nothing he could
have done to avoid this tragic accident.
So does this mean that there’s no one to blame? Does this mean that
this 12 year old girl is dead, and it’s no one’s fault? No, because if there’s
anyone who could have avoided this, it was the defendant. If they had only
used some common sense. The defendant is hoping that you will ignore
your common sense, and play their little game of finger pointing. But it’s
time someone used some common sense, and that common sense tells us
who’s really to blame in this case. Were it not for Principal Burchhill’s
careless decision to ignore the law, Chris Allman would not have been
driving that school bus that afternoon. If Chris Allman had used common
sense and printed out an accurate map of the bus route, he wouldn’t have
been confused as to where he should let those little girls off. Or, if he’d
simply used common sense to see that it had to be safer for those little girls
to not have to cross six lanes of traffic to safely get home, Dana Dalton
never would have even had the opportunity to hit little Rebecca. Yes, the
Dallas County School Board is to blame here because of the wreckless
actions of its employees.
Everyone here knows that what has happened here is a tragedy, but
it’s not one without fault. Please, ladies and gentlemen, don’t further that
tragedy by turning your back on common sense. We ask that you hold the
defendants responsible for their actions and find in favor of the plaintiffs.