Ketchikan tourist sues borough after scooter tips over on public bus

Ketchikan buses sit parked outside the Ketchikan Gateway Borough maintenance facility. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

A 91-year-old cruise-ship tourist is suing the Ketchikan Gateway Borough for negligence after his mobility scooter tipped over on a public bus. 

The complaint was filed in federal court in Alaska on May 8. It says that Donald Gillingham of Montana and his wife were on a cruise that docked in Ketchikan in September. Gillingham has limited mobility, so they rented a motorized scooter and boarded a public bus. 

The complaint states that the elderly man’s mobility scooter tipped over when the bus made a left turn. It also says that Gillingham sustained serious injuries from the fall, though he wasn’t aware of the severity at the time. It wasn’t until he returned to the cruise ship and was later evaluated at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau that he found he’d allegedly sustained three broken ribs and a punctured lung. 

Ketchikan’s public buses have internal straps to secure mobility scooters. Gillingham’s attorneys claim that because the straps aren’t mandatory, the driver didn’t require him to use them. The complaint claims the borough owes a duty of care to its passengers, which it neglected by not transporting Gillingham safely.

Gillinghams’ attorneys, Mark and Jon Choate declined to comment on the case in an email.

Ketchikan Borough Manager Ruben Duran also stated in an email that he’s aware of a potential lawsuit, but hadn’t been served any notice.

The complaint accuses the borough of one count of negligence and one count of loss of consortium. The loss of consortium is a charge filed on behalf of Gillingham’s wife, Patricia Gillingham, and alleges that the physical and emotional trauma her husband suffered has eroded the quality of their marriage.

Previous articleA look at some of the bills that failed to pass the Alaska Legislature this year
Next articleAlaska Legislature establishes psychedelic task force for FDA-approved therapies