New Mexico drunk driver sues friend, restaurants after crash kills two teens

New Mexico drunk driver sues friend, restaurants after crash kills two teens
IHOP Corp. restaurant chain announced the takeover of the Applebee's restaurant chain for $2.1 billion dollars on July 16, 2007. (UPI Photo/Ezio Petersen) | License Photo

A New Mexico man who drove drunk and killed two sisters is suing the restaurant that served him the booze and a friend who let him get in his car afterwards.

James Ruiz, whose inebriated misadventure in 2010 resulted in the deaths of Del Lynn Peshlakai, 19, and her sister Deshauna, 17, in south Santa Fe, went to court Friday to seek damages from Applebee's, the Blue Corn Cafe, and a friend, Gilbert Mendoza.


According to the Albuquerque Journal, Ruiz said 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.”

Ruiz blamed the restaurants and Mendoza for negligence, which "was a cause and/or contributing cause of the Plaintiff's severe emotional distress," the suit reads.

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But the 2010 crash wasn't Ruiz's first run-in with the law: the 37-year-old is a repeat drunk driver who has five DWI arrests on his record and was out on bond when the crash occurred.

Ruiz is serving a 40-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2011, and filed the lawsuit without a lawyer.

He said Applebee's knew him to be a habitual alcoholic, who was obviously intoxicated when he and Mendoza appeared on the night of March 5, 2010. After drinking more at the Blue Corn Cafe, they left without paying and Mendoza gave the keys to Ruiz, even though he knew Ruiz was drunk and had a history of DWIs.

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Ruiz claims the restaurants violated state laws when they served him even though he was obviously drunk.

Santa Fe Dining, a group that includes Blue Corn Cafe, changed its alcohol rules to impose limits on customers after the 2010 crash.

A wrongful death suit from the Peshlakai family against Ruiz, Mendoza and the restaurants is pending in state district court.

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