San Diego News 10 reported that 28-year-old Nicholas Thibault pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced on May 10, 2011 for the death of 48-year-old Brent Routley. The fatal auto accident happened on February 27, 2011 when Thibault, who was drunk at the time, veered off the road as he exited the I-805 in City Heights. Routley who was camping in the shrubbery was struck and killed by the BMW, which Thibault had borrowed. Routley was survived by his wife Michelle, children, and grandchildren. His wife was quoted as saying “He’s (Thibault) taken away my partner for life. He’s taken away my future.” A friend Dorothy Fenley said Routley had just gotten a job and was on his way to getting his life back together.
Our condolences go out to the Routley family and friends.
Applicable California Law
Thibault pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter for violation of California Penal Code Section 192. Furthermore, he as well as the owner of the vehicle will be liable to the Routley family for Brent Routley’s wrongful death (see my prior Blog post on Wrongful Death Law in California). The owner of the BMW will be liable for entrusting his vehicle to another regardless of any fault under California’s permissive use law Vehicle Code Section 17150. If the owner of the BMW knew or should have known that Thibault was drunk when he let him use the vehicle, he would be responsible for negligent entrustment. Thibault could also face claims for punitive damages for gross negligence for driving under the influence (see my prior Blog post on California DUI Law).
Just as a man is turning his life around, he is tragically killed. Auto accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents involving reckless drunk drivers often result in serious injury or wrongful death. The aide of an experienced personal injury attorney can help surviving family members obtain justice.