UConn, Plamondons settle lawsuit at $4 million
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 00:09
The State of Connecticut will pay $4 million to George and Linda Plamondon after the couple won a lawsuit they filed when their son, a UConn student, was accidently hit and killed by a university bus in 2011. The lawsuit totals $5.5 million, of which the state’s insurance company will cover the remaining $1.5 million.
UConn will not raise attendance costs to supply funds for the Plamondons’ lawsuit.
“While UConn is part of the State of Connecticut, the settlement will not come from tuition or fee payments, nor will it require cuts in academic spending, financial aid, or other campus services to students,” said UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
The State of Connecticut will provide $4 million through its self-insured Insurance and Management Board. Since the insurance plan has a maximum coverage of $4 million for legal settlements, the insurance company will contribute the additional $1.5 million.
The Plamondons’ son, David Plamondon, 20, of Westminster, Mass., was a physiology and neurobiology major. He was a gifted student in the classroom with a 3.7 grade point average and a member of the university A Cappella group A-Minor. Plamondon was pursuing medical school upon graduation from UConn.
Following their son’s death, the Plamondons urged UConn to stop hiring student bus drivers and employ non-students instead. In a statement that appeared in the Hartford Courant last week, Linda Plamondon said, “I believe that David’s death speaks volumes of evidence against poorly trained, poorly supervised, highly distracted student drivers on a very busy college campus. UConn needs to do more to ensure pedestrian safety on the campus.”
While UConn will continue to employ student bus drivers, safety measures have been put in place in an attempt to prevent university transportation-related accidents from occurring. The “Safe Turn Alert” system warns pedestrians as buses are turning and reminds drivers to check both sides of the roadway before making a turn. Such technology was not available at the time of Plamondon’s death.
Reitz said student drivers at UConn undergo the same training and selection process as non-student drivers. This process is identical to the preparation required to become a driver of any school bus, coach bus, tractor trailer, or other large passenger vehicle in Connecticut.
“The UConn bus drivers also go through additional training to learn the campus routes with a supervisor riding along, and the University has a number of evaluators – whose identities are unknown to the drivers – who regularly ride the buses to monitor drivers’ skills and report to UConn officials,” Reitz said.
Bus driving is one of the many work-study options available for UConn students, who rely on the wages from these jobs to pay for their education. UConn is one of many universities nationwide to employ students in their transportation departments. Janet Freniere, supervisor of UConn student bus drivers, said student bus drivers were unable to comment on the university’s transportation system and its safety procedures.
Whether or not UConn changes its policies regarding the use of student-bus drivers, the implications of Plamondon’s death will not be forgotten, and neither will his life.
“David Plamondon’s death was tragic and heartbreaking for his family, friends and the entire UConn community,” Reitz said. “The University continues to grieve over the loss of such a talented and promising young man. We hope his loved ones receive some measure of comfort in knowing how widely he was admired at UConn and how greatly he is missed.”