The family of a man who was struck and killed by a drunken substance abuse counselor who drove around with him stuck in her windshield has sued the counselor's Torrance employer.
Relatives of 31-year-old Phillip Moreno, who killed in November 2012 by Sherri Wilkins, announced the lawsuit on Thursday alongside the family's attorney.
The family has filed suit against Twin Town Corporation, which runs the Torrance substance abuse counseling firm where Wilkins worked.
Wilkins was sentenced in June to 55 years to life in prison for second-degree murder, DUI causing injury, driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher and leaving the scene of an accident. She drove through Torrance for 2 miles with Moreno stuck in her windshield until onlookers surrounded her car and stopped her.
"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phillip and the pain we feel has not subsided," said the victim's brother-in-law, Marco Salgado.
Salgado, coincidentally, was a patient of Wilkins. He said he witnessed her nodding off during meetings.
The family's lawsuit alleges Wilkins' employer was negligent in allowing her to drive, and was aware of her substance abuse problems, among other claims. Attorney Brian Kabateck claimed that Wilkins was drinking on the job and collided with Moreno just after leaving work.
"It's hard to believe that someone entrusted with helping addicts recover from addiction would actually be using drugs at the same time," Salgado said.
In a statement provided to KTLA in response to an inquiry about the lawsuit, David Lisonbee of Twin Town Treatment Centers said he had "no knowledge of Ms. Wilkin’s relapse" and that she had "good to excellent performance ratings from her clients." He had not been provided formal notice of the lawsuit, he said.
"Twin Town doesn’t provide transportation or drivers, and the CEO and CFO are the only persons who are provided work-related vehicles. Commute back and forth from work are not company business, according to governmental rules. Mileage is reimbursed when employees are visiting other locations for training but the vehicle is not under the domain of the company," the statement continued.
Wilkins was not scheduled to work and did not work on the day of the crash, Lisonbee said.
"Our offices close on Saturday at 2 p.m. and we reopen at 9 a.m. Monday," the statement read. "The incident occurred well outside of our business hours."