By Jessica Mathews /

The lawsuit filed against the driver of a bus that crashed in Livingston County more than three years ago is heading toward trial.

Brianne Nicole Pope of Taylor was sentenced in January of 2020 in a criminal case in which she pleaded no contest to three counts of Moving Violation Causing Serious Impairment of Body Function. She was ordered to serve two years of probation, 20 days of community service, and a 10-day suspended jail sentence.

The charges stemmed from the crash of a charter bus returning from a Hartland school field trip in April 2019, when it overturned on the freeway off-ramp from eastbound I-96 onto M-59 in Howell Township. Pope was later found to have had 2 nanograms of marijuana in her system at the time of the crash and she was charged with a probation violation that ultimately resulted in a 30-day jail sentence.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit remains pending against Pope that was filed by Holly Shuart of Highland Township, who was one of the chaperones on the trip. The lawsuit also names the bus company Pope worked for at the time, Ground Travel Specialist, as a defendant and seeks damages in excess of $25,000. Shuart claims Pope was negligent and careless when driving the bus. Some of the injuries sustained by passengers included a broken neck, broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

That case is heading toward trial in Livingston County Circuit Court. An order was filed yesterday granting two motions filed by the defense that had been held in limine since a hearing last week. Court records show the first will preclude evidence of THC and Pope’s criminal convictions at trial while the other will preclude inflammatory statements, questioning and testimony regarding liability.

A final pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for April 15th. If there are no further adjournments and no deal is reached, the case is scheduled for a jury trial April 18th.