Lawsuit against driver in fatal N.J. Wendy’s crash settled for $1.2M

A lawsuit filed against the 79-year-old driver in last year’s fatal crash at a Wendy’s restaurant has been settled for $1.2 million, an attorney in the case confirmed today.

On Feb. 19, 2015, Elizabeth M. Garcia, then 78, drove her BMW through a window at the eatery on Lefante Way and struck 89-year-old John Ruiu, who died from his injuries two and a half weeks later.

Jody M. Ruiu-Geisert, the daughter and estate executor of John Ruiu, subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Garcia in Monmouth County Superior Court in June.

The suit also named Garcia’s husband, Guillermo J. Garcia, as a co-defendant in the case. The lawsuit had accused him of “negligently, carelessly and/or recklessly entrust(ing) his/their motor vehicle” to Elizabeth Garcia.

Ruiu-Geisert’s attorney, Peter Chamas of Woodbridge-based law firm Gill & Chamas, said today that the suit was settled earlier this month.

A 57-year-old woman crashed her car into the Sleepy’s showroom at Bayonne crossing Sunday afternoon, police said.

The Ruiu and Garcia families couldn’t immediately be reached for comment regarding the settlement.

Elizabeth Garcia did not face criminal charges following the crash and was only cited for careless driving, which she was found guilty of last September. She received the highest penalty for that violation — a $200 fine.

Surveillance video of the crash, shown at Garcia’s trial on the careless driving charge, showed her SUV pass through a line of people waiting at the Wendy’s counter. It also showed that after the car crashed, Garcia put it in reverse and backed up less than a foot.

Click on this link to stay up to date with this lawsuit.

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