The family of a 27-year-old Libertyville man who died in 2017 after falling out of a party bus on Interstate 294 has reached a settlement with the limo company.
James Larsen, 27, of Libertyville, rented a party bus with more than 20 friends to travel from Gurnee to Rosemont to celebrate a birthday on June 3, 2017.
Larsen was standing in the front of the bus adjusting the music as it was traveling back from Rosemont, according to Chicago-based law firm Romanucci and Blandin.
The law firm said Larsen fell and hit the passenger door due to the bus speed and “inexperience of the driver.”
The door opened while in transit and the man fell onto Interstate 294 at Lake Cook Road near Deerfield.
Larsen died as a result of the fall but was also struck by another vehicle.
The bus was owned and operated by Select Limousine Service.
Attorneys representing Larsen’s mother in the lawsuit alleged that Select Limousine Service did not properly maintain and inspect the passenger door on the bus.
The manufacturer of the passenger door, Bode North America, required monthly inspections of the locking and closure devices on the door.
Select Limousine Service never inspected or maintained the door, attorneys said. The locking devices were improperly aligned on the date of the incident, which allowed the door to open.
The bus driver, Basem Askar, did not have a commercial driver’s license and the lawsuit alleged he was unqualified to drive any passenger vehicle.
“This tragedy has changed our family forever, and no settlement will bring Jimmy back. He was an aspiring comedy writer and had his whole life ahead of him. He has missed being the best man at his brother’s wedding and the birth of his first niece,” Jimmy Larsen’s mother, Kimberly Larsen, said.
“We want to spread the word about the lack of safety regulations both federally and at the state level. No family should ever have to endure a senseless loss due to this kind of negligence,” Larsen said.
Attorney Joseph Kolar said the bus company was operated out of the owner’s Chicago condo and had no employees inspecting the bus.
“The tragedy here is that young adults were making the right choice by hiring a party bus company to transport them for a birthday celebration. The industry is not regulated, and many party bus companies are small shops with one or two vehicles that may be run from a home without mechanics or any formal business operations,” Kolar said.
The transportation company was also cited for failing to have the minimum insurance required for interstate trips.
The minimum in Illinois is $5 million but Select Limousine Service only carried a $1.5 million policy.
“There is no supervision by federal or state authorities to make sure passenger bus operators have the proper amount of insurance to do business. Select’s insurance was inadequate under federal and state law. The public needs to know that party bus operators are likely not carrying adequate insurance and may not be properly licensed,” said attorney Robert S. Baizer.
Romanucci and Blandin announced Friday they had reached a settlement in the case but did not disclose the amount.