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Surviving Harbor Bridge crash victim files lawsuit against Flatiron/Dragados, Railroad eatery, Palacios

Janell Donaho suffered a broken leg in the wreck that killed Betsy Mandujano and Mathew Banda.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The surviving victim of the fatal three-vehicle crash on the Harbor Bridge on Nov. 2 has filed a lawsuit against Railroad Seafood & Brewing, Flatiron/Dragados, LLC. and Roxanne Palacios.

Palacios is the wrong-way driver currently charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault after reportedly causing the wreck that killed Mathew Banda and Betsy Mandujano and injured Janell Donaho, the plaintiff in the suit.

Palacios is awaiting a criminal trial in the case. 

The civil lawsuit accuses Flatiron/Dragados, LLC. and Railroad Seafood & Brewing of contributing to the crash by providing the means for Palacios to have been overserved that night.

Janell Donaho is represented by Thomas J. Henry attorney Charles Nichols. She is asking the court to award more than $1 million in damages.

According to the lawsuit, Flatiron/Dragados, LLC. sponsored an event to celebrate the agreement between the company and TxDOT to continue work on the new Harbor Bridge Project. The event was held at Railroad Seafood & Brewing in Downtown Corpus Christi.

The suit identifies Palacios as Flatiron/Dragados' Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Manager, who was in attendance, and states that she was "observed by fellow Flatiron Dragados employees to be obviously heavily intoxicated to the extent that she presented a clear danger to herself and others."

It faults both Flatiron/Dragados and Railroad Seafood & Brewing with overserving Palacios alcohol, and not stopping her from driving after letting her become intoxicated.

When she left the restaurant and brewery at 7:20 p.m. that night, the lawsuit states "on information and belief" that she drove her Chevrolet Traverse toward the bridge on Belden Street and turned right on North Tancahua Street, near Concrete Street Amphitheater. The suit then states she turned right on Power Street and onto the Harbor Bridge using that exit ramp. 

She reportedly hit the Mazda sedan Banda was driving and then hit Donaho.

Officers smelled alcohol on her, according to the lawsuit, and her blood was tested  when she was taken to CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital - Shoreline, where ethanol -- the main component in most alcoholic drinks -- was detected.

The lawsuit claims varying levels and degrees of negligence on Palacios' part, as well as Flatiron/Dragados'. It also accuses the builder and Railroad Seafood & Brewing of being liable for Palacios' and Railroad employees' actions, respectively.  

TxDOT Public Information Officer Rickey Dailey tells 3NEWS the lawsuit will not affect the agency's working relationship with Flatiron/Dragados, LLC. on the new Harbor Bridge Project.

Banda's widow also sues Palacios

Christina Banda, Mathew Banda's widow, also has filed suit against Palacios on her behalf, and that of their daughter.

She also is suing for more than $1M, on the grounds that the injuries he sustained in the wreck caused Mathew Banda's death.

The suit references two separate statutes: the Texas Wrongful Death Statute and the Texas Survival Statute

The survival statute awards damages for the pain and anguish Mathew Banda suffered because of the crash, as well as medical and funeral expenses. The Wrongful Death Statute awards Christina Banda and her daughter damages for emotional distress and financial loss caused by Mathew Banda. 

Christina Banda is represented by Charles Webb Jr. of Webb Cason & Manning, P.C.

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