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Man pleads guilty, sues victim

Jan. 16, 2012 at 3:28 PM

TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A Florida man who pleaded guilty to being drunk when he crashed his truck into another vehicle, killing three people, claims in a lawsuit he was not at fault.

David Belniak, who pleaded guilty to three DUI manslaughter charges in August and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, filed a lawsuit against the now-deceased other driver, claiming the victim was at fault for the crash, the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times reported Monday.

Debra Tuomey, Belniak's attorney and sister, filed suit last month alleging the crash that killed Linda McWilliams, 66; her daughter, Denise Bassi, 50, and her son-in-law, Gerard Bassi, 51, was the fault of McWilliams' husband, Ray McWilliams, who survived the Dec. 25, 2007, crash with injuries but died in March at the age of 68.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for Belniak's "pain and suffering … mental anguish … loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life" and the medical bills he incurred as a result of the crash.

Police said Belniak was driving between 75 and 85 mph when he crashed his pickup truck into the back of the Chevrolet Tahoe being driven by McWilliams, who had stopped for a red light. Authorities said Belniak had alcohol, Xanax and evidence of cocaine in his system.

Maureen Deskins, the Tampa attorney representing the estate of Linda and Ray McWilliams, said relatives were "stunned" to hear of the lawsuit.

"It seems there is no end to the pain David Belniak is willing to inflict on this family," Deskins said.

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