An attorney for a North County nanny who was struck and killed by an SUV in Santaluz last month filed a civil lawsuit Friday against the driver of the SUV and the driver’s husband.
Nanny Monserrat Mendez, 41, was killed when the driver of an SUV ran a red light at the intersection of Camino Del Sur and Via Verrazzano on Feb. 1.
At the time of the crash, Mendez was pushing a 14-month-old toddler in a stroller across the intersection. The nanny suffered critical injuries and later died at the hospital.
The toddler was hospitalized in intensive care for several days for injuries that included a shattered spleen, fractured femur, pelvic fracture, broken rib, broken leg and skull fracture. The little boy eventually pulled through and survived the collision.
After a lengthy investigation by San Diego police, the driver of the SUV, Christine Padilla, of Del Sur, was charged with vehicular manslaughter, failure to stop at a red light and failure to yield to a pedestrian within a crosswalk.
Padilla entered a not guilty plea on Mar. 15 and is scheduled to appear in court again on Apr. 24.
In the meantime, Padilla – who’s an attorney herself in the North County -- is facing a civil suit filed by an attorney for the Mendez family, particularly the nanny's two children left behind after her death.
Friday’s civil suit alleged that Padilla was negligent and reckless when she ran a red light and struck Monserrat and the toddler.
The suit also targets the driver’s husband, Jeffrey Padilla, as being negligent for allowing his wife to drive one day after giving birth.
On the day of the Santaluz collision, NBC 7 reported that the driver of the SUV was a brand-new mother and had just given birth. After running a check on the vehicle’s license plate, NBC 7 learned the car was registered to a Jeffrey Padilla who lives near the scene of the accident.
NBC 7 went to the address and a man who identified himself as a "Mr. Padilla" answered the door. He said his wife was too distraught to issue a statement.
“Please, she’s gone through enough. There’s no way we can give a statement right now. We have a one-day-old baby,” Mr. Padilla told NBC 7 on Feb. 1.
A police report from the fatal collision shows that Padilla admitted she was sleep-deprived after she did, in fact, give birth one day earlier.
The police report says that after the accident Padilla told officers she was driving home from her sister’s house and knew she ran a red light, but by the time she realized what she had done, it was too late.
Padilla told officers: “I’m sorry – I’m sleep-deprived and I just looked up and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, it’s red.’ And then oh my God, and she was right there.”
In the report, Padilla goes on to attribute her fatigue to staying up late with her baby, stating: “I have a newborn. I gave birth yesterday and I need to get home.”
Mendez family attorney Jim Frantz, who’s representing Mendez’s two children, believes both the driver and her husband were at fault in the crash.
“There’s really no excuse for this occurring, at all,” Frantz told NBC 7. “Letting her drive the car after she just delivered a baby. Why wasn’t someone else driving her around? Why wasn’t [her husband] driving her around?”
Frantz believes Jeffrey Padilla is just as responsible as Christine for the accident. In the civil suit, Frantz states: “Allowing Christine to operate the Toyota 4Runner in an impaired state was negligent, careless and reckless.”
Frantz says Mendez’ surviving children – a 14-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter – are now living with their father.
But the pain of losing their mother so suddenly and tragically may never go away.
“These young children have lost the guidance, the love, the support of their mom and that's significant. And they're entitled to whatever damages are allowed under law,” added Frantz.
The Mendez family attorney says he will now ask for medical records to see if Christine Padilla was under the influence of any medication at the time of the fatal collision.
NBC 7 reached out to the Padillas for comment on the civil suit Friday, but they did not respond.