Photo: Santa Fe Drunk Driver Sues Drinking Buddy, Restaurants for Serving Him
A New Mexico man is suing both his drinking buddy at two restaurants after he killed two people while driving drunk.
On Wednesday, James Ruiz, 37, filed a lawsuit in New Mexico District Court claiming his friend and two Santa Fe restaurants caused him emotional distress due to the “loss of liberty and enjoyment of life” after he was served too many alcoholic beverages.
In 2010, after drinking heavily at his friend, Gilbert Mendoza’s house, the two men went with Mendoza’s girlfriend to an Applebee’s in Santa Fe where they drank more. In his lawsuit, Ruiz claims he was over served at Applebee’s and also alleges an employee knew of his history.
At the time of the incident, Ruiz was out on bail for his 5th DWI arrest, something he claims the employee knew.
After drinking at that restaurant, the group headed to Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery where they continued to drink. When they left that venue, Ruiz claims Mendoza, knowing Ruiz was not in the “right state of mind” to drive, gave him the keys to the truck.
As Ruiz drove Mendoza’s truck at a high rate of speed, he slammed into the vehicle carrying 19-year-old Del Lynn Peshlakai, her sister, 17-year-old Deshauna and their parents. The girls died and the parents were injured. After the wreck, Ruiz was found to have had a blood-alcohol level of .22, almost three times the legal limit to drive.
In 2011, Ruiz entered a guilty plea, and was given a 40-year sentence. He has since asked for a new trial or reconsideration of his sentence, as he claims his lawyer told him he would only serve half that and did not provide him with effective representation.
Just one day after the three-year anniversary of the wreck that killed the Peshlakai sisters, Ruiz filed his lawsuit claiming Mendoza gave Ruiz him the keys to the truck knowing he we was drunk. He is also suing Applebee’s and Blue Corn for continuing to serve him even though he was visibly drunk.
According to ABQ Journal:
Ruiz says that as a result of “causing and perceiving the motor vehicle crash and its effects upon everybody envolved (sic), the Plaintiff (Ruiz) suffered and continue (sic) to suffer emotional distress.”
He maintains in his suit that he was “convicted and incarcerated due to the chain of events that the defendants” – the restaurants and Mendoza – “set in motion.” Ruiz says he “suffered and will continue to suffer from the emotional distress due to the loss of liberty and enjoyment of life.”
According to the Associated Press, the Peshlakai family has filed a wrongful death suit against Ruiz, the restaurants and others.