In the early morning of September 19, 2004, Gilberto Rodriguez, a Posh Bagel employee, was driving a rented delivery truck south on U.S. Highway 101 in Marin County. Gilberto Rodriguez lost control of the vehicle and hit a bridge support. The crash killed his passenger, Denitsa, a 23-year-old Bulgarian exchange student who was visiting the United States. Denitsa and Gilberto became friends at the casino where they had both worked. Investigators learned that Rodriguez tested positive for methamphetamine (meth) on a California Highway Patrol drug test, and that he had only a few hours of sleep prior to the incident. He had invited Denitsa to ride with him to help combat his fatigue.
The firm learned that Gilberto Rodriguez’s driver’s license was restricted months before the accident because of another rental truck accident, multiple red light violations, and driving with a suspended license. The firm contended that Posh Bagel was a federal motor carrier and was required to monitor alcohol and drug use among its drivers. The firm also learned of Gilberto Rodriguez’s prior meth conviction and argued that his other criminal offense convictions established a pattern of habitual drug abuse. The matter settled before trial.