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Father suing 3 businesses, driver after wreck kills wife, children

A Patel family photo. (Source: Sunny Sheilesh) A Patel family photo. (Source: Sunny Sheilesh)
Shelby Taylor is charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter. (Source: Rusk County Jail) Shelby Taylor is charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter. (Source: Rusk County Jail)

A Central Texas man, whose wife and two children were killed in a fatal crash on July 10, is suing the driver of the car that hit them and three other East Texas businesses, according to paperwork.

Ketanbhai Kanjibhai Patel has filed suit against Shelby Taylor, Eaton Oil Tools, Audrey D. Amos and The Brewery Social Club, and Rainbow Members Club. The suit explains that Taylor became intoxicated while drinking alcoholic beverages at clubs owned by The Brewery and Rainbow Members Club on the night of July 10. The suit goes on to say that Taylor then drove a Ford F-350 truck owned by defendant, Eaton Oil Tools, ultimately colliding with the Patel's van.

"We feel very strongly that the allegations that we've made in the petition and the amended petition, that's all parties, we have plenty of evidence to prove the allegations that we made," Randy Akin, the Patel's attorney, said.

The wreck happened on Highway 259 in Rusk County near Kilgore. Police say Taylor was driving the wrong way on the highway she hit the Patel's car head on. Ketanbhai Patel, the father, survived the crash, but his wife, Heena Patel and their two children, 6-year-old Ryera Patel and 12-year-old Trish Patel, were killed. The suit explains that the family was traveling to Tennessee to visit their oldest daughter, Twinkle Patel. Twinkle Patel is also listed as a plaintiff on the suit.

"You are really representing the community down in Houston. It's a community of a lot of people that you have to go through and talk to because the East Indian culture, they protect each other and so it was almost a community effort and community decision," Akin explained.

The paperwork states that Eaton Oil Tools negligently entrusted the Ford F-350 to Taylor, even though she had a “sordid criminal history, bad personal habits, and a pending DWI.” Taylor implied that she had been given permission to drive the Ford F-350 owned by Eaton Oil Tools. It claims Eaton Oil Tools should have known that Taylor posed a danger to the general public if allowed to drive a vehicle. Taylor was employed by Eaton Oil Tools at the time of the collision.

"There's no doubt it's a statement case. A statement on drunk driving and alleged drunk driving and the bad things that can happen," Akin said.

Shelby Taylor had previously been arrested in 2013 for a DWI. In November of 2009 she was arrested for assault causing bodily injury. In October 2010, she was arrested for assault causing bodily injury and burglary of a habitation. In January of 2011 she was arrested for burglary of a building. 

The suit also claims The Brewery and Rainbow Members Club violated the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code by serving Taylor when it was apparent that she was “obviously intoxicated to the extent that she presented a clear danger to herself and other.” It sites that Taylor's intoxicated state was a proximate cause of the collision.

It explains that Shelby Taylor was negligent for driving while intoxicated, driving on the wrong side of the road, failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to properly apply her brakes, faulty evasive action, and failing to control her speed.

The suit also explains that Ketanbhai Patel is seeking damages for injuries he suffered to his head, neck and body and personal injuries including medical treatment and costs, lost wage earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and physical impairment. Patel is also seeking damages for the value of his car, which was destroyed in the collision, funeral and burial expenses, and medical expenses. The total of all damages sought exceeds $1 million.

Other paperwork showed Taylor had called a friend the night of the crash to come to the scene and claim responsibility as the driver since Taylor had been drinking. Her passenger and that friend later admitted Taylor was the driver of the Ford F-350. Shelby Taylor has been charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter and DWI for the July 10 crash. She posted $751,000 bond and was released. 

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