Mother of Drunk Driving Victim Appeals Case to United States Supreme Court

Martha Chavis, whose 42 year old son Kevin Jones was killed by a drunk driver more than four years ago, is having trouble obtaining justice simply because she lives in the state of Texas. Driver Pedro Rodriguez hit her son’s vehicle head on, killing them both, after speeding the wrong way down Interstate 20 the night of August 20th, 2011. Shockingly, the crash happened after Rodrigues had been stopped and released just minutes before by a State Trooper from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“I’m feeling bad right now. I stopped him 40 minutes ago,” the trooper was recorded saying on his patrol car’s dashcam when he learned of the accident after failing to arrest Rodriguez earlier that night. Not only did Rodriguez appear to be drunk in video of the highway stop obtained by Channel 7 KLTV, the trooper let him go even though he had been speeding in excess of 20 mph over the highway limits, without a driver’s license.
Chavis sued after her son’s death, but unfortunately the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, has yet to recognize state-created danger as a cause of action to sue a state actor. Of the eleven federal courts of appeals, only the Fifth Circuit and First Circuit, which covers Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island, have failed to adopt the theory.
Schouten, attorney with Martin Walker law, isn’t giving up, however, and has appealed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Now, the Chavis family waits to see if the Supreme Court will take up their case from among the more than 8,000 cases appealed to the high court each year.
For more information on this case, watch KLTV’s 7 Investigates report.