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Drunk Driver Sues Friend, Restaurants For Over-Serving After Deadly Crash in New Mexico

By Staff Writer | March 08, 2013 04:30 PM EST

A drunk driver sues his friend and two Santa Fe restaurants for serving him alcohol, after a deadly crash in 2010 that killed two teenagers.

James Ruiz, 37, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in New Mexico District Court seeking monetary damages from Applebee's and the Blue Corn Café as well as his friend Gilbert Mendoza, after he was convicted and feels the "loss of liberty and enjoyment of life."

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Ruiz filed the lawsuit without a lawyer as he claims the restaurants and his friend caused him "emotional distress" after serving him drinks in 2010. As these "chains of events" led him to get behind the wheel drunk.

Mendoza was with Ruiz the night he crashed his truck into the back of a car, killing Del Lynn Peshlakai, 19, and her sister Deshauna, 17 in March 2010. Ruiz is serving his 40-year prison sentence after entering a guilty plea in 2011.

At the time of the accident, Ruiz was out in bond for his fifth DWI arrest and his blood-alcohol concentration was 0.22 percent after the accident, nearly three times the legal limit in New Mexico.

The Peshlakai family filed a "wrongful death" lawsuit against Ruiz and the restaurants and it is still pending. There were no comments from the restaurants and his friend Mendoza regarding the lawsuit.

The new lawsuit alleges that Mendoza invited Ruiz to his home and to the two restaurants for drinking. Although both were clearly intoxicated, both restaurants continued to serve them. He claims that Applebee's employee working that night knew he was "a habitual drinking alcoholic."

He adds that Mendoza handed the keys to Ruiz, despite being aware of his drinking history. Also the restaurants that served him drink "was a cause and/or contributing cause of the Plaintiff's severe emotional distress."

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