Lawsuit filed following wreck in Odessa

Two businessmen who were in the process of remodeling a building on West Clements are suing an Odessa man who they claim destroyed the building after driving into it while drunk and the two bars that served him that night.

Robert Valencia and David Valencia III are seeking more than $1 million in damages against Buffalo Wild Wings, Agave Bar, Dario Jesus Orona and Ariel Sandate.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Ector County District Court, Orona and Sandate were intoxicated when they came into the Buffalo Wild Wings on North Grandview Avenue late on the evening of Feb.25 and Orona was “encouraged to purchase and consume alcohol, and was served and overserved alcohol” by the restaurant’s employees, servers and managers.

The lawsuit further alleges the restaurant’s staff then allowed an “obviously intoxicated” Orona, 33, to get into a 2010 Dodge Charger and leave around midnight.

According to the lawsuit, Orona then drove to the Agave Bar on East University Boulevard where he was again encouraged to drink and was overserved despite being obviously intoxicated. The lawsuit further states that although Orona “presented a danger to himself and others,” staff allowed him to leave instead of calling the police or for a cab or Uber.

At 3:30 a.m., the lawsuit states Orona drove the Dodge Charger halfway through a building at 627 W. Clements Street the plaintiffs were remodeling to open a new business.

The lawsuit states that because the Valencias were unable to secure the damaged business, it was vandalized, looted and stripped and the City of Odessa condemned and leveled it.

Misty Meeker, a representative of the Howard Restaurant Group, which owns the Buffalo Wild Wings, declined to comment, saying they’ve not yet been served with the lawsuit. A call to Melanie Hollmann, the registered agent for the Agave Bar, has not yet been returned.

Orona is being sued because he drove while intoxicated, failed to control his speed and otherwise caused the accident while driving on a restricted or suspended license, the lawsuit stated. Sandate is being sued because she owned the Dodge Charger and allegedly allowed Orona to drive it while drunk and when he was unlicensed, the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit alleges the businesses violated the state’s dram shop laws and were grossly negligent in their actions that night.

The Valencias’ attorney, Rachel Ambler of Odessa, is seeking more than $1 million on her clients’ behalf, “but defers to an amount the jury deems reasonable under the circumstances.”

According to online Ector County District Court records, Orona has pending court cases stemming from an October 2020 DWI arrest, a December 2020 drug arrest and a drug arrest that took place three days before the lawsuit-related crash. An Ector County jury also indicted him in June after a pregnant Sandate accused him of assaulting her.

Phillip Wildman, the attorney representing Orona in the assault case, did not immediately return a phone call.