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Husband Blames Marines for Wife’s Suicide

(CN) - The family of a Georgia woman claim in court the U.S. government is responsible for her suicide because it encouraged a Marine to drink prior to causing the drunk driving accident in which the woman's husband was severely disfigured.

In a complaint filed in federal court in Raleigh, N.C., Stephen Menard says he was driving a delivery truck on the night of Dec. 3, 2010, when he was struck head-on by a vehicle being driven on the wrong side of State Highway 58 by Marine Staff Sgt. Vincente Gomez.

On the night of the accident, Gomez attended a formal Marine Corps. party sponsored by his superior officers on government property. Gomez was killed in the crash, but an investigation found he must have been driving between 90 and 100 miles per hour, and an autopsy later revealed he had a blood alcohol level of two-and-a-half times the legal limit at the time of the collision.

Menard says the accident left him with multiple severe injuries that including the crushing of both his legs. Eventually, after multiple surgeries, Menard's right leg was amputated and he is now confined to a wheelchair.

According to the October 6 complaint, Menard's wife, Jacqueline, became increasing depressed about her husband's condition and the impact the accident had had on their lives, and eventually killed herself with an overdose of prescription pills.

"Her death was caused or significantly contributed to by the devastation of the crash, the injuries to her husband and the constant demands of his care," the complaint says. "As a direct and proximate result of the head-on collision, Plaintiff, Jacqueline Menard lost the consortium of her husband, who was the family's primary bread giver."

Menard asserts the United States and its agent, the U.S. Marine Corps., was "under a duty to exercise reasonable care and control of its Servant while acting outside of the scope of his employment so as to prevent him from intentionally harming others or from conducting himself as to create an unreasonable risk of bodily harm to others."

"The Marines holding the dining in or mess night knew or should have known that it was likely that the participants in the event who drove to the event and who were served alcohol at the event and became intoxicated to the point that it was not safe to drive would likely make bad decisions in their intoxicated state and attempt to drive," the complaint says.

Menard seeks unspecified damages on claims of negligence, wrongful death and respondeat superior.

He by John Felix Green II of Hall & Green in Wilmington, N.C.

A representative of the Marine Corps could not be reached for comment.

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