The family of Margaret Lopez, who was killed by a wrong-way driver early on New Year's Day while accompanying her husband on his shift as a sheriff's deputy, has sued the woman who caused the crash and the bar that served alcohol to her.
The wrongful death/dram shop lawsuit names as defendants Elizabeth Rhodes and the Big Ten Supper Club in Arden Hills, where Rhodes drank the night before the fatal crash.
Ramsey County sheriff's deputy Joseph Lopez was driving west on Hwy. 10 in Arden Hills shortly after 3:30 a.m. Jan. 1 when Rhodes, driving the wrong way, collided head-on with his squad car. Maggie Lopez, 56, died at the scene.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Ramsey County contends that Rhodes caused the crash while "in a state of alcohol-induced intoxication."
The suit said the Big Ten violated state law when it served drinks to Rhodes "while she was obviously intoxicated."
Patrick Reilly, attorney for the Big Ten Supper Club, declined to comment Thursday.
Rhodes, 23, of White Bear Lake, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.19 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to a criminal vehicular homicide charge filed in April in Ramsey County District Court.
She pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
The victim was known to friends and family members as Maggie. She had been on many ride-alongs with her husband and enjoyed learning more about his work, friends said after her death. The couple had been married more than 20 years and planned to retire this year to New Mexico.
The suit was filed by Maggie Lopez's husband; her sons Thomas, Timothy and Terence Ditlefsen, and her sisters Judith Cina, Elizabeth Kusilek and Patricia DeSmith.
It asks for in excess of $50,000 in damages.