CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – Attorneys for a 68-year-old grandmother who was struck and killed in a traffic accident last Sunday have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a 19-year-old University of Miami student and her father, saying he is liable for her conduct.
The lawsuit filed by the firm of Silva and Silva says that Ivanna Victoria Villanueva had been speeding and had been drinking and was negligent and showed “extreme recklessness and a wanton disregard for life.” Her father Luis Villanueva is also named in the lawsuit.
Attorneys say Villanueva had been drinking at different, well-known Miami Beach night clubs and was speeding when her brand-new Audi SUV slammed into the rear-end of Ayala’s vehicle.
“I would like to say that she killed the most precious person,” said Brenda Vazquez, the only daughter of Eyder Ayala, a mother of five and a grandmother of seven children. Ayala was returning home from her job as an Assistant Manager at a Miami McDonald’s restaurant when her car was struck from behind at around 4 a.m.
Ayala had worked at the McDonald’s restaurant for the past 20 years and was an Assistant Manager there.
The accident happened near the intersection of Lejeune Road and Majorca Avenue. The impact was so severe that Ayala’s trunk was pushed into the front seat. She was killed instantly.
“I think she was the most valuable person in our family,” said Vazquez, who spoke to a room crowded with news crews as attorney Carlos Silva announced the lawsuit.
“We don’t have her anymore. We are not going to see her anymore,” said Vazquez. “We are not going to feel her kisses, her faces, her hugs, her food. I feel nobody should be drinking and driving, especially underage people. I hope she gets the punishment she deserves.”
In court Monday at a hearing before Villanueva was released on $50,000 bond, a prosecutor said that Villanueva had used fake identification papers to get into the Fountainebleau Hotel’s Club Liv.
Attorneys say the lawsuit could eventually involve the nightclubs and/or hotel that had illegally served alcohol to Villanueva.
“We want to find out where she was drinking and who allowed a 19-year-old in to their club and why this happened,” said attorney Carlos Silva. “The message to parents is that they need to have more information as to where their children are and make sure they are not drinking and driving.”
“Through this civil lawsuit, we are seeking justice,” said Silva. “We hope to help the criminal prosecution in this case. Our concern is to find out where she was drinking.”
Silva said that his law firm would continue to investigate “all of the details of the accident” and would work closely with the Coral Gables Police Department.
“My Mom was the most loving, exceptional, wonderful person,” said Vazquez. “There’s just an emptiness. I am not filled with anything. This is a nightmare that I’d like to wake up from. It’s very unfortunate for the whole family. We are very distraught. We never thought this could happen.”
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench stopped twice at Villanueva’s home in Coco Plum. No one answered the door when he knocked. On his second visit, D’Oench tried to speak with two men who were getting into a car and leaving the home. One of them told D’Oench that he had no comment.
A family spokesman, Ivan Morales, told D’Oench that Villanueva’s family was “retaining counsel” and stood by its statement from Monday.
In that statement, Morales said “The Villanueva family is exceedingly saddened by the events of this past Sunday. And Ivanna Villanueva is grief stricken over this tragic accident. Everyone in the family wishes to convey their deepest sympathies to the Ayala family at this very, very sad time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Morales said no family members wanted to say anything on camera right now.
Villanueva is charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving. Prosecutors say a DUI charge could be added once the sobriety tests come back from the October 2nd accident.
Villanueva is under house arrest and was fitted with electronic monitoring bracelet. She is under house arrest and only able to leave her home for classes at the University of Miami.