A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the father of a Torrance man killed by a drunken driver, finding that the drug rehab center where the motorist worked as a substance-abuse counselor wasn’t responsible for the employee’s actions.
She is serving a 55-year-to-life prison sentence for the death of 31- year-old Phillip Moreno, whom she struck with her car as he walked across Torrance Boulevard on Nov. 24, 2012. A jury convicted Wilkins of second-degree murder, driving under the influence and hit-and-run.
Wilkins, now 55, had just left the Twin Town center when she struck the victim, whose father maintained in his complaint that her employer was liable for her negligence.
According to the lawsuit, the impact of Wilkins’ car striking Phillip Moreno was so severe that the victim’s legs pierced the car’s windshield. He remained impaled on the vehicle as Wilkins drove it for two miles before she was prompted by other motorists to stop.
At the time of the crash, Wilkins voluntarily went to work on her day off and stayed for two hours, consuming both vodka and a beer and tomato juice beverage, according to a ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Sotelo, who entered judgment in favor of Twin Town on July 14.
“Simply because Wilkins started her fatal journey directly from defendant’s facility does not make Twin Town liable under California law,” Sotelo wrote.
Wilkins did not tell her boss that she was working overtime that day and no one on the Twin Town staff asked her to do so, according to the judge.
Sotelo called Wilkins’ behavior “so unusual, … so startling … so willful, malicious and criminal, that it clearly constituted a substantial departure from any duty she had as a Twin Tower employee.”
—City News Service