Niagara Gazette

April 17, 2014

Passenger suing driver charged with DWI, pub who served him

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — An Elba man who was a passenger injured in a February car accident has filed a lawsuit against the driver, who was charged with DWI by police.

Christopher W. Blake, 21, filed the suit April 8 in New York State Supreme Court against Levi K. Dieterle, 21, of Medina. On Feb. 27, Dieterle was driving a pickup truck, heading east on Lincoln Avenue, when he lost control of the vehicle and struck a snowbank and a mailbox before crossing over the median and hitting a tree on the other side of the road.

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office charged Dieterle with driving while intoxicated. Blake had to be extricated from the vehicle by emergency workers from Terry’s Corner’s Fire Co. and was transported Erie County Medical Center by Mercy Flight.

Also named in the suit as defendants are Robert Dieterle, who owned the pickup truck, the Lockport Pub and its owner, Damian Spalla of Lockport.

In the lawsuit, Levi Dieterle was reportedly driving a 1996 Ford truck at just about 1 a.m., at which time he lost control of the vehicle, leading to the roll over accident near the 7400 block of Lincoln Avenue. Dieterle was taken to Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport for minor injuries.

The accident happened “solely as a result of the negligent, careless and/or reckless manner in which the defendant operated his motor vehicle,” the suit alleges.

The suit also blames Lockport Pub for selling alcohol to Dieterle despite him being reportedly, “visually, actually and apparently intoxicated.”

No amount of money was listed in the suit, but Blake is seeking an amount that covers medical and legal costs, as well as any further relief the court decides. The suit says Blake has suffered severe, painful and permanent serious injuries, as well as economic loss.

Blake’s attorney Anthony Tantillo did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday. According to a notice about an April 6 benefit for Blake, he was dealing with serious spinal injuries and spent at least three weeks in the intensive care unit at ECMC.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.