In a world where nothing seems strange anymore the Associated Press (AP) has reported a shocking story. James Ruiz, 37, arrested five times for DWI, has filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in the New Mexico district court. According to Ruiz, a repeat drunk driver who was involved in an alcohol related accident which killed two teenagers, claims that his conviction and incarceration after the accident were from a “chain of events that the defendants set in motion.
Ruiz is seeking compensation from a friend and Applebee’s and the Blue Corn Café for the car accident and subsequent incarceration.
The two teens, Del Lynn Peshlakai, 19, and her sister Deshauna, 17, were killed after Ruiz ran his truck into their car while they were attending a high school basketball tournament. The parents of the two teens were also injured in the accident. The family was from the Navajo reservation.
Ruiz has been sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2011, but he now claims that he is suffering emotional distress due to his loss of liberty and enjoyment of his life.
If the deaths weren’t bad enough, it’s horrible to consider that Ruiz was on out on bond on his 5th DUI arrest when the car accident occurred, and his blood alcohol concentration was 0.22%, almost three times the legal limit in all states.
Both restaurants have yet to comment on the law suit.
Ruiz is also facing legal challenges of his own. The Peshlakai family has filed a wrongful death suit against Ruiz and both restaurants. This case is currently pending in New Mexico state district court.
Does Ruiz have a chance to get compensation?
New Mexico is one of thirteen (13) states which recognize the pure comparative fault rule, which allows a damaged party to recover compensation even if they are 99 percent at fault. Consider, however, that recovery for injury is reduced by the percentage of each party’s guilt.
But the question remains, does Ruiz have a case? Ruiz will have to prove the elements of a personal injury case:
- Presence of Duty
- Breach of Duty
- Injury to the claimant
- Causation between breach of duty and the injury
So Ruiz will have to prove that he suffered an accident or injury and someone else is legally responsible for his damages or harm. Personal injury claims can be settled through a judgment, but they are more often settled through an information settlement.
Most of us read this story and are incredulous. If anyone should be blamed for this accident it is Ruiz who is a multiple DUI offender who should never have been behind the wheel. He should have been in prison and maybe then the lives of Del Lynn Peshlakai and Deshauna could have been spared. Hopefully a judge sees this for what it is: a frivolous lawsuit by a desperate man who is finally in prison getting the punishment he deserves for a horrible crime.
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