Jury awards $14.5 million to Albuquerque man's family

The Associated Press reported last week that a Santa Fe jury returned a verdict of more than $14.5 million to the family of an Albuquerque man killed by a drunken driver in 2003. Daniel Gutierrez was in a coma for about five weeks before he died.

His mother, Janet Jaramillo, sued the driver, Daniel Durand, and the Albuquerque convenience store he worked for before the crash. She alleged that Alameda Meteor, which owned the convenience store, and its parent companies were negligent when employees sold alcohol to Durand when he was obviously intoxicated.

Her attorney, Jacob Vigil, said store employees sold Durand beer throughout the day knowing he was a chronic alcoholic.

Blood-alcohol tests on Durand three hours after the crash found his blood-alcohol content was 0.09, above the legal limit.

Durand was sentenced in September 2003 to 10 years in prison and five years on probation for the drunken driving crimes he committed after he leaving work at the store drunk and colliding with five vehicles, including Gutierrez's motorcycle.

The lawsuit named El Baracho Inc., which leased the liquor license to the store operators, along with Meteor Monument, Alameda Meteor and Meteor Stores Inc., which held the franchise for the convenience store.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com