The first lawsuit in the Little Panda Restaurant roof collapse has now been filed. The incident killed 23-year-old Tara Wilson and injured ten others two weeks ago. Now one of the families is seeking justice. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire has details of the lawsuit.
39-year-old Daniel Perez works for an air conditioning service in Lubbock and was inside the restaurant to service the air conditioner when the roof collapsed. Family members say he's still in the hospital with severe head injuries, they also say he'll never be the same. His family filed the lawsuit because they say someone needs to take responsibility for the accident.
Moments before Little Panda turned into piles of rubble, Daniel Perez was there to service the air conditioner, he was still inside when the roof collapsed.
Perez's ex-wife Becky Rubio says the family is experiencing a number of overwhelming emotions since then. "Anger, concern, hopelessness," she said.
Perez became trapped under the debris of the fallen roof. The family's attorney, John Hart, says he's still hospitalized at Covenant where he suffers from difficulty speaking and memory loss. However, he vividly remembers the accident.
"He was hearing the screams trying to get to the lady. He can tell you, 'the lady in the brown skirt, I was trying to get to her'," said Rubio.
Perez loves the outdoors and enjoys spending time with his three children. Hart says his injuries could be permanent, meaning his family life will never be the same.
"We're big NASCAR fans, we were thinking about trying to go to a race in April, but that's not going to happen," said Rubio as tears came to her eyes. "He enjoyed being with his children, his family and friends."
Perez's family filed a lawsuit against the owner of the Little Panda building, Trustreet Properties. The lawsuit states the defendants negligence is the proximate cause of the occurrence in question and of Perez's injuries and damages. The lawsuit and the family says someone must be held accountable for the tragedy.
"He's had a lot of changes, he's not the same, whatever resolves from this somebody needs to be responsible," said Rubio.
Hart says they'll pursuit medical damages, lost wages as well as intangibles such as pain and mental anguish the family has gone through. Hart hopes that within 12 months they'll go to jury trial.
The building's owner, Trustreet Properties based in Orlando, FL did not return a phone call to comment on the lawsuit.
Deadly Restaurant Roof Collapse Triggers Nationwide Inquiry