Larchwood, Iowa — A company is saying they are not responsible for a Larchwood man’s death because when the bus line bought their bus, the bus line signed an agreement to defend and indemnify the company and hold them harmless.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol reported that a charter bus carrying 56 passengers was eastbound on Interstate 90 in the dark, on Thursday, December 21st, 2017, when the bus lost all power. The bus came to a stop in the middle of both lanes. No lights were operating on the bus. An eastbound 2013 Ford E-250 van rear-ended the bus. The Patrol says that 31-year-old Cade Stensland was the van driver and was pronounced dead at the scene. No one on the bus was injured.

The federal suit, filed in the US District Court for South Dakota says the Stenslands are suing Cavallo Bus Lines of Gillespie, Illinois, the owner and operator of the bus, for $10 million.

Cavallo later filed a third-party complaint against Motor Coach Industries International, or “MCI,” who it says is the manufacturer of the bus involved in the accident as part of the same case.

Cavallo alleges, among other things, that a “master power switch” on the bus’s control panel was at fault. They believe that the switch was unintentionally flipped by the bus driver, which caused the bus to lose all power, including the engine and exterior lighting, which caused the bus to stop in the middle of the two eastbound lanes of I-90. Cavallo says the design of the switch allows for easy, unintentional activation. Plus, they allege that the switch was identical to, and placed in close proximity to other switches that they say MCI should have known would have to be used by the driver during ordinary over-the-road operation of the bus.

In the complaint, Cavallo says that if they should be found liable for Stensland’s injuries and death, such liability would arise from the acts or omissions of the manufacturer, MCI.

MCI claims in court documents that they were not the manufacturer of the bus, and because Cavallo signed an agreement to “defend, indemnify and hold harmless MCI,” when Cavallo sued MCI, it was a breach of their agreement. So MCI has now filed a countersuit. They are also suing for the value of about $225,000 in service and parts for which they say Cavallo bought but never paid for.

Related story:

Bus Company Blames Manufacturer For Fatal Crash

Family Of Larchwood Man Killed In SD Accident Sues Bus Company For $10 Million

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