$11 million settlement for residents killed in bus fleeing hurricane

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The owner of the bus that caught fire fleeing Hurricane Rita, and another related company, have agreed to a settlement of $11 million with survivors and the families of nursing home residents who died. The bus was attempting to evacuate Texas nursing home residents out of the storm's path just a short time after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the New Orleans area.

The $11 million will be divided among the 21 survivors and the families of the 23 people who died when their bus exploded. The bus caught fire in traffic near Dallas in September after leaving Houston's Brighton Gardens nursing home. Oxygen tanks exploded, fueling the fire. Some passengers and the driver escaped while others were trapped by flames.

The bus company, Global Limo, and BusBank, which hired Global Limo on the behalf of the nursing home, agreed to the settlement. According to court documents, BusBank, based in suburban Chicago, has a $6 million insurance policy and Global Limo's insurance policy has a $5 million limit.

Victims also have filed lawsuits against Sunrise Senior Living, the nursing home's owner, over negligence claims; and Motor Coach Industries, the bus manufacturer, over possible design flaws.