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August 22, 2008

Motley Rice LLC files first lawsuit in the fatal Harrah's Entertainment bus crash

Motley Rice has filed a negligence and products liability action against eight defendants, alleging that the defendants' negligence, omissions, breach of warranty, failure to maintain, careless operations and failure to warn caused and contributed to the bodily injuries, pain, suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and future damages of five plaintiffs who survived the crash of a Harrah's Tunica Bus. The incident bus was en route to the Tunica, Mississippi airport on Sunday, August 10, 2008, when it crashed and claimed the lives of three Charleston, South Carolina, area women and injured forty other passengers, including the plaintiffs.

Named defendants include Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: HET), Harrah's Tunica Corporation, Casino Express LLC, Freightliner Corporation, Daimler Trucks North America LLC, Glaval Bus, Forest River Inc., and the bus driver, Larry D. Williams. The case was filed in the Court of Common Pleas for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of South Carolina. According to the complaint, Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., Harrah's Tunica Corporation, Casino Express LLC and Williams, owned, controlled, maintained, sponsored, promoted and operated the incident bus. The other four defendants designed, manufactured, marketed and distributed the bus.

"Our clients were picked up by one of the largest casino operations in the world for a free flight and weekend of fun, but instead they encountered an entirely avoidable commercial bus crash which we believe is due to the defendants' transport of passengers in a poorly maintained and manufactured vehicle. Since August 1, 2008, we have seen four commercial bus crashes nationwide, two of which were fatal. Something has to change," stated Motley Rice attorney Kevin Dean (GA, SC).

On August 10, 2008, Larry Williams drove the full size 2007 Freightliner Glaval Bus on Interstate 61 through Tunica County, Mississippi. At approximately 10:15 p.m., the bus hydroplaned, fish-tailed out of control, rotated, overturned, rolled and landed on the side of the northbound lanes of Interstate 61. Since 2003, fatal and nonfatal bus crashes have steadily increased. From 2003 to 2007, there were 1,143 bus crashes resulting in fatalities and almost 30,000 injury crashes, according to the Department of Transportation.

"Bus and motor coach safety is mandated by federal regulation; however, the individual carrier has additional responsibilities to take all necessary measures to provide for the safe travel of its passengers. In the instance of this crash, Harrah's failed on both counts: the responsible parties violated several federally mandated regulations and made no effort to provide any additional safety precautions. We believe these particular failures led to the injury and death of innocent individuals," said Former Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Motley Rice attorney, Mary Schiavo (DC, MD, MO, SC).