- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

BALTIMORE (AP) Attorneys for two of the Baltimore teenagers implicated in the December beating of a passenger aboard a transit bus plan to sue the Maryland Transit Administration, the bus driver and the city school system.

The attorneys say the two eighth-graders were suspended from school and denied their bus privileges without a hearing or due process.

Attorney Quinton Herbert said his 15-year-old client is barred from riding MTA buses, and the city is paying for a tutor because the boy isn’t allowed at school. Attorney Jay Ortis’ client, also 15, has been accepted by a different school, but he also isn’t allowed to ride on MTA buses, which double as school buses in the city.

Each boy is seeking at least $10 million in damages $5 million each for the school suspension and the loss of bus privileges. That amount could increase if the lawsuit includes more complaints, Mr. Ortis said.

Mr. Ortis and Mr. Herbert said the lawsuit cites negligence by the city, the city schools and MTA to provide safe and reliable transportation because the MTA bus where the assault occurred stopped to pick up riders who weren’t students.

“My concern is the manner in which students are transported,” Mr. Ortis said.

The attorneys cited a 2006 General Assembly legislative audit that revealed doubts about whether the bus drivers were the most qualified and if they were being paid too much. Mr. Ortis said there was “a real lack of accountability.”

The charges against their clients were expected to be dismissed yesterday afternoon because of an agreement with prosecutors that directed each boy to perform 15 hours of community service. The attorneys said they agreed to the deal to avoid the burden of bringing the case before a juvenile judge only to have the charges dismissed.

“There’s been no finding of guilt,” Mr. Herbert said.

In all, nine students from Robert Poole Middle School were charged after the attack on Sarah Kreager and her boyfriend, Troy Ennis, following a dispute about an empty seat on the bus.

Last month, four students were found involved the juvenile equivalent of guilty in an assault on Miss Kreager. A fifth was ruled involved in reckless conduct that led to serious injury to the woman. All five were ruled involved in reckless conduct that led to serious injury to Mr. Ennis.

Yesterday, the judge ruled they were all delinquent and sentenced them to community placement, which means they will receive treatment at home, but are committed to the Department of Juvenile Services.

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