Published March 09, 2013
SANTA FE, N.M. – A repeat drunken driver convicted in a crash that killed two teenagers has sued his drinking buddy and two Santa Fe restaurants that served him alcohol.
James Ruiz, 37, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New Mexico District Court and is seeking monetary damages from the friend he was out drinking with as well as Applebee's and the Blue Corn Cafe, the Albuquerque Journal reported Friday.
The lawsuit, filed by Ruiz without a lawyer, claims the restaurants and his friend caused Ruiz emotional distress due to the loss of liberty and enjoyment of life after he was served drinks in 2010.
Ruiz said in his suit that he was convicted and incarcerated due to the chain of events the defendants set in motion.
Police said Ruiz rammed his truck into a car and killed two teenagers -- Del Lynn Peshlakai, 19, and her sister Deshauna, 17 -- from the Navajo reservation.
He's serving a 40-year prison sentence after entering a guilty plea in 2011.
Santa Fe Dining, a restaurant group that includes Blue Corn Cafe, declined to comment. Applebee's did not immediately return two phone messages and an email from The Associated Press.
Ruiz was out on bond on his fifth DWI arrest when the fatal crash took place, authorities said.
Police said he had a blood-alcohol concentration at the time of 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit for driving.
The Peshlakai family has filed a wrongful death suit against Ruiz, the restaurants and others in the case. That suit is pending in state district court.
The Peshlakai sisters and their parents were in town for a high school basketball tournament when the fatal wreck took place. The parents were injured in the crash.