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Judge finds BIA partly to blame for drunk driving deaths

A federal judge on Wednesday found the Bureau of Indian Affairs negligent for allowing an ex-employee with alcohol problems to operate a government vehicle.

But U.S. District Judge William "Chip" Johnson also said Lloyd Larson, the ex-employee, was responsible for the car crash that took the lives of two couples. Johnson said Larson would be liable for 60 percent of any damage award while the BIA would pay 40 percent.

Government lawyers successfully argued that Larson wasn't actually working the day of the accident because he had called in sick. He consumed an entire six pack of beer before ramming head-on into the car carrying the couples.

Johnson said he will issue a written ruling on the money award within 30 days. The Ramaeker family said they were disappointed with the decision on who bears responsibility for the crash.

The family of the second couple settled with the BIA for $2 million.

Get the Story:
Judge rules BIAnegligence in driving deaths (AP 4/22)
BIA Shares Fault in 4 DWI Deaths (The Albuquerque Journal 4/22)

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