Family of teen killed in drunk-driving crash files lawsuit

By: 
ANTHONY ALANIZ

A lawsuit filed in Washtenaw County Trial Court October 6 by the parents of Curt Orlowski, who was killed in a drunken-driving crash last year, claims the parents of Travis Cunningham, Daniel and Elizabeth, furnished the alcohol that led to the crash, according to court records.

The lawsuit states Cunningham had a BAC of 0.22 percent, putting him in the “super drunk” category of intoxication, according to MLive. Cunningham is currently serving 12-30 years in prison for killing Orlowski and Dakota Gonzales in a drunken-driving crash July 3, 2014.

The lawsuit has two counts. The first count claims Cunningham was negligent and is civilly liable for killing Orlowski in the crash. The second count claims Cunningham’s parents are responsible for furnishing the alcohol that made Cunningham, who was 19 at the time, intoxicated, even if they didn’t knowingly supply it, according to MLive. 

John Bredell, the Ypsilanti-based attorney representing the Orlowskis, said the police report shows Cunningham’s father brews beer at their Monroe home, and Cunningham had access to alcohol, MLive continued.

Legal counsel representing the Cunninghams, Ann Arbor-based attorney Andy Sugerman, said Cunningham’s parents did not furnish their son with alcohol under any legal “social host” law, MLive reported.

The lawsuit is seeking damages more than $25,000, the minimum amount necessary to be filed in circuit court.

Bredell told MLive the police report isn’t clear where Cunningham got the alcohol. “Our working conclusion is that he was provided the alcohol at home,” Bredell added.

Cunningham was charged and pleaded guilty to two counts of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) Causing Death, one count of OWI Causing Serious Injury and one count of OWI.

The crash occurred about 4 p.m. on U.S. 23 near Michigan Avenue in Pittsfield Township. Cunningham’s pickup truck was heading northbound when he crossed the median and collided head-on with Dakota and Orlowski’s car heading southbound. Erin Lara was also in the vehicle and survived.

MLive is reporting Gonzales’ family has also retained legal counsel to explore the possibility of filing suit.

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