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After acquittal of drunk driver, families file suit

On behalf of Law Office of Matthew Vance, P.C. posted in Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents on Friday, July 13, 2012

The families of three teenagers who died in a 2009 crash in Santa Fe, New Mexico, are back in court, after the man who allegedly caused their deaths was acquitted of four counts of vehicular homicide. Those families have filed a wrongful death suit against a downtown bar and two convenience stores, which allegedly allowed the driver to purchase alcohol, despite his allegedly obvious intoxication. That driver is also named in the lawsuit.

An eyewitness cited in the lawsuit reported that the man was at a local bar between 9:30 and 10 p.m. that night. Eventually, he and his Jeep would be involved in a crash that took the lives of four individuals. One individual in the vehicle survived the accident.

The suit alleges that the bar and two other stores all contributed to the severe injury and deaths of the three individuals whose families are involved in the suit. The lawsuit asks that the establishments and involved employees be restricted with extreme sanctions in order to deter similar conduct by others.

A blood alcohol content test administered approximately four hours after the crash revealed that the driver had a blood alcohol content of 0.16 percent, which is twice the legal limit. Despite the acknowledgement of the state and the man's defense attorney that the driver was drunk at the time of the crash, a DWI charge was not pursued during the trial. In addition, the jury could not find proof beyond reasonable doubt that the man caused the crash.

In the civil suit, the plaintiffs claim that the driver failed to maintain his lane and was driving without a proper license.

In March, the man was arrested and charged with his second DWI. Reports indicate that he may currently be at an alcohol treatment center in Colorado. And while it's good that he's seeking treatment, he still needs to be held accountable for his mistakes.

Source: Santa Fe New Mexican, "Families file suit in Owens fatal crash," Nico Roesler, June 29, 2012