SANTA FE (KRQE) – A federal jury has cleared a Santa Fe Applebee’s of over-serving a man who caused a deadly crash.
James Ruiz is in prison for driving drunk and killing two girls.
Their family sued, claiming the Applebee’s knowingly gave Ruiz too much alcohol.
The federal jury ruled that the Santa Fe Applebee’s didn’t violate the state’s liquor control act the night Ruiz drank at their restaurant in 2010.
The lawsuit claimed Ruiz was already drunk when he got to Applebee’s and servers gave him more drinks. He then went to the nearby Blue Corn Café to get even more booze.
Ruiz eventually rear-ended the Peshlakai family’s car at a stop light. The crash killed 19-year old Del Lynn and 17-year-old Deshauna Peshlakai.
The family ended up suing and settling with the Blue Corn Café, but Applebee’s fought the civil lawsuit.
The Peshlakai family argued that Applebee’s negligently served Ruiz drinks and that the corporation emphasized liquor sales in the recession.
Ten people on the jury did not agree though and cleared the restaurant.
The Peshlakai family says despite losing, they hope the trial has helped change alcohol service in New Mexico. The Blue Corn Café did change its alcohol serving policies after the crash.
The Peshlakai family says they are scheduled to speak at two Santa Fe schools about the dangers of drunk driving next week.
Ruiz is now serving a 40-year sentence in prison near grants.
Ruiz has also filed his own lawsuit against Applebee’s and the Blue Corn Café. He’s seeking money for the restaurants for over-serving him.