Two more families file lawsuits in fatal drunk driving accident

ANN ARBOR — The family of Dakota Gonzales and Erin Lara filed lawsuits in Washtenaw County Trial Court on November 18 against Travis Cunningham, 20, and his parents for the 2014 accident that killed Gonzales, 18, and Curt Orlowski, 18, and injured Lara, according to MLive. The Orlowski family filed a similar civil lawsuit on October 6.

The two lawsuits claim Cunningham, by falling into the category of “super drunk,” was negligent and liable from a civil standpoint in causing the deaths of Orlowski and Gonzales and injuring Lara. The lawsuits further claim Cunningham’s parents were responsible for furnishing the alcohol that caused their son’s intoxication, whether they did so knowingly or unknowingly.

John Bredell, an Ypsilanti attorney representing the Orlowski family in the lawsuit filed in October, stated the police report for the accident mentions Cunningham’s father brews beer in the family’s home in Monroe. This hobby, according to Bredell, means Cunningham had access to alcohol, although Bredell told MLive in its October story the police report did not specify where Cunningham got the alcohol that caused his intoxication before the accident.

Cunningham was charged and pled guilty to two counts Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) Causing Death, one count of OWI Causing Serious Injury and one count of OWI. He was sentenced to serve 12 to 30 years in prison for causing the deadly accident.

The accident on July 3, 2014, occurred at approximately 4 p.m. on U.S. 23 near the Michigan Avenue exit. Cunningham was traveling north on the expressway when he crossed the median and crashed head-on with the southbound vehicle driven by Gonzales.

Lara was a passenger in the front seat of the vehicle and Orlowski was sitting in the back seat. Cunningham’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was .22 percent at the time of the accident, according to the lawsuits. According to MLive, the lawsuits filed by the Gonzales family and Lara claim Cunningham was driving to the University of Michigan for “purposes of outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse.” Attorney James Fink is representing both the Gonzales family and Lara, and would not comment for the MLive story.

Andrew Sugerman, attorney for Cunningham and his parents, did not respond to an MLive inquiry for the story.

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