Civil lawsuit filed by family of man killed in fatal multivehicle crash on Hwy. 135 | Crime and Courts


The family of a Santa Maria man killed in a multivehicle crash on Highway 135 near Orcutt has filed a wrongful death suit against Gil Pena, the tractor-trailer driver whose big rig slammed into the back of a sedan in a collision near Orcutt.

Filed by victim Rick Motley’s surviving family — his wife, Mary, and his two adult sons, James and Jared — last week in Santa Barbara Superior Court, the lawsuit alleges that food service company Sysco Corp. negligently hired and retained Pena, an individual they claim has a history of unsafe vehicle operation. 

“[The] plaintiffs were deprived of the love, companionship, care, comfort, affection, society, solace, services, support, training, advice, nurture, instruction and earnings of Rick Motley,” the lawsuit reads. The surviving members of the Motley family seek a jury trial to determine damages, compensation for Rick Motley’s funeral and burial expenses, as well as costs associated with the lawsuit.

At approximately 6:29 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, Pena, 56, was driving southbound on Highway 135, just north of Union Valley Parkway, at an unknown rate of speed when he struck the rear of a Nissan sedan, causing a pileup with four other vehicles. The force of impact killed the driver of the sedan, Rick Motley, 60, and his passenger, Jesse Gluyas, 24.

An allegedly intoxicated tractor-trailer driver slammed into the back of a sedan early Thursday, killing two and causing a six-vehicle pileup …

Southbound traffic was impacted for more than eight hours as crews cleared the wreckage and investigated the crash.

Pena, who sustained minor injuries in the crash, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The California Highway Patrol previously said they would request charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence causing injury to a person.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has yet to file criminal charges against Pena.

Although the investigation is continuing into a deadly crash involving a tractor-trailer and a sedan last Thursday in Orcutt, the California H…

In addition to being under the influence at the time of the crash, the lawsuit alleges Pena operated the tractor-trailer in a negligent manner. Prior to the incident, Pena was travelling at an allegedly unsafe speed and failed to apply the brakes. 

The lawsuit also claims that Pena had a history of unsafe vehicle operation, including citations for speeding, cellphone use, red light violation and violations for coasting in neutral on downgrade slopes. Though it did not specify whether any of the violations occurred while Pena was driving his tractor-trailer, the plaintiffs allege Sysco hired Pena despite a driving record that made him a threat to public safety.

“Sysco [was] aware of the probable dangerous consequences of retaining [Pena] as an employee whose chief responsibility was driving on the roadway,” the lawsuit states. “The probable dangerous consequences included the likelihood of death to others on the roadway. [Sysco] deliberately failed to avoid the probable dangerous consequences of their actions.”

The case was reassigned on Tuesday to Santa Maria Superior Court Judge Timothy Staffel. The first case management conference is set for Sept. 3.

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