Family files suit against lab

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By John Severance

A family is suing the Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the company that runs the lab, alleging it was responsible for allowing one of its employees to drive drunk and kill Bruce Mondragon in a 2010 crash.

Andrew Trujillo, who was 28 at the time of the April collision that killed Bruce Mondragon, 25, of Medanales, has since pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced to eight years in prison in the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

The accident occurred about 10 a.m., while Trujillo was driving his 1996 Toyota Camry north on N.M. 30 in Española when he ran a red light at the U.S. 84/285 intersection and struck a Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by Mondragon.

According to previous media reports, Trujillo was clocked at 106 mph in a 45-mph zone. Subsequent to the crash, Trujillo’s blood alcohol level twice measured almost double the legal limit of 0.08.

Mondragon died the following day, April 22, of injuries suffered in the crash.

The complaint, filed in First Judicial Court in Rio Arriba County, names Los Alamos National Security, LLC, Patricia Lopez and Benito Martinez as defendants.

Lab spokesman Fred DeSousa said LANL does not comment on matters of pending litigation.

Plaintiffs in the complaint include Mondragon’s widow, Edwina Mondragon, and children Juanito, Santiago and Esperanza.

The Mondragons are being represented by Taos attorney Kevin Zangara.

“This incident received a lot of publicity,” Zangara said, “Bruce Mondragon was the sole source of support for the Mondragon family, and Bruce

Mondragon and Edwina Mondragon had a very close and loving husband and wife relationship. Bruce Mondragon was also a caring and loving father who spent substantial amounts of time with his three minor children.”

According to the complaint, Trujillo arrived at the laboratory for work between 6:45 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and attended an employee safety meeting with many other employees and supervisors present from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The complaint said among the supervisors present at the safety meeting were the defendants, Lopez and Martinez.

The complaint says that Trujillo had communication with the defendants. Other employees observed conduct on the part of Trujillo and they concluded that Trujillo was intoxicated.

The complaint says that Lopez and Martinez, took steps to prevent and deter Trujillo from operating a motor vehicle including requesting that Trujillo remain in a room by himself while assistance was sought.

Trujillo remained at the laboratory and was sent home from the laboratory by supervisory personnel or was allowed to leave the laboratory at approximately 9:30 a.m. on April 21, 2010.

The complaint then said that shortly before 10:05 a.m. on April 21, 2010, a motor vehicle operated by Trujillo was clocked on radar by a police officer traveling 106 miles per hour. Moments later, Trujillo ran a red light at the intersection of U.S. Highway 84/285.

The complaint cites a number of lab policies that contain provisions which require action be taken for the safety of the general public where LANL supervisory employees have reason to believe that an employee is under the influence of alcohol.

The complaint alleges the defendants and other LANL employees “failed to exercise ordinary care and failed to comply with the policies identified above and such failures were a proximate cause of the death of Bruce Mondragon and plaintiff’s damages.”

Zangara is seeking compensatory damages for his clients “in accordance with the evidence to be introduced at the trial of this matter and for such other and further relief as the court may deem just.”