The widow of a late math and music teacher from Valencia is suing the man accused of her husband’s May hit-run death as well as the man’s employer.
Valerie Pryor’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges a supervisor of 28-year-old Canyon Country resident Lucas James Guidroz at LA Fitness knew or should have known about his employee’s heroin addiction, yet allowed him to drive away from the job on his own while impaired.
Pryor, who was married to Roderick T. Bennett, is suing Guidroz, Fitness International LLC and Guidroz’s girlfriend, Valentina D. Rodriguez, who allegedly owned the car Guidroz was driving.
The negligence suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
An LA Fitness representative of the firm did not immediately reply to an email sent today seeking comment.
Guidroz allegedly was driving the 2014 Lexus CT200h SUV that fatally injured Bennett, 53, the afternoon of May 25 as the victim was riding a bicycle on Placerita Canyon Road just east of the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol. Bennett died at the scene.
Bennett was a well-regarded math teacher and band director at Arroyo Seco Junior High School in Valencia.
Investigators said they later located the vehicle believed to have struck Bennett in Canyon Country and that Guidroz surrendered a short time later.
Bennett had been riding on the far right of the eastbound lane of Placerita Canyon Road when his bike was struck from behind by a vehicle that continued eastbound, the CHP reported.
According to the lawsuit, Guidroz worked selling memberships at the LA Fitness gym in Stevenson Ranch. The gym’s general manger initially believed Guidroz was fine when the counselor arrived to work, but later noticed that he was slurring his words, sweating and that his memory was impaired, the suit states.
The general manager and other gym employees knew or should have known that Guidroz was a heroin addict and that he had taken substances at work that put him under the influence, the suit alleges.
The co-workers knew it was common for Guidroz to spend 20-30 minutes in the restroom “or otherwise disappear from his work station with little or no explanation,” the suit states.
Later that day, the general manager saw that Guidroz’s eyes were dilated and glossy and that he had trouble remembering the script used in interacting with prospective members, the suit states.
“To even a lay observer, it was, or should have been, apparent that Guidroz was intoxicated…,” the suit states.
Due to Guidroz’s behavior, the general manager told him to leave work before the man’s shift was over, the suit states. The general manager did not give Guidroz time to recover from his condition, nor were medical personnel called, the suit states.
Bennett’s widow also believes Guidroz’s girlfriend knew of his drug problem and habit of driving while under the influence, the suit states.
Guidroz was seen “weaving left to right and crossing the solid while line to the right of his driving lane at least once” before allegedly striking Bennett, the suit states.
“Guidroz fled the scene and left Bennett to die, or already dead, along the roadside,” the suits states.
Guidroz was charged in June with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person.