The attorney who filed a $7 million lawsuit against hit-and-run driver Drew V. Tidwell predicts that the lawsuit will uncover the full truth about Tidwell's actions on the night his car killed an Amherst bicyclist last month.
"Ultimately, Mr. Tidwell will have to get on the stand. He will have to answer questions about where he was, what he drank that night, and what his actions were at the time of the incident," William J. Love, attorney for the family of Donald E. Fruehauf, said Thursday.
"I'm very confident we will get to the bottom of the story. We already have private investigators out retracing his movements. I am confident we will be able to prove he was drinking to excess that night."
The Fruehauf family filed a negligence lawsuit Thursday in State Supreme Court, alleging that Tidwell, 51, of Amherst, was driving while impaired by alcohol Aug. 17 when his car struck and killed Fruehauf.
Tidwell drove home after fatally injuring Fruehauf. Four days later, his defense lawyer contacted the Erie County district attorney's office to tell authorities that they could find the car involved in the accident in Tidwell's garage. In pleading guilty Sept. 3 to a felony charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, Tidwell admitted he had been driving the vehicle.
"The death (was) caused by the gross negligence, the wanton negligence, the criminal negligence and/or criminal recklessness of . . . Drew V. Tidwell," according to court papers filed by the Fruehauf family.
Tidwell, a former partner in a Buffalo law firm, never has said whether he had been drinking that night.
His case has touched off efforts by Albany lawmakers to strengthen the criminal charge for leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Michael S. Taheri, Tidwell's criminal attorney, declined again Thursday to discuss whether Tidwell had consumed alcohol.
"We knew that a civil lawsuit would be filed, although I have not seen it yet," Taheri said. "As for the claim that Drew was consuming alcohol, I can only say that the guilty plea he took (on Sept. 15) included an admission that he left the scene of a fatal accident, but no admission about drinking alcohol.
"Drew will vigorously defend himself against this lawsuit."
Amherst police said Fruehauf, 68, was riding his bicycle when Tidwell's car struck him. Tidwell left the dying Fruehauf in the street, driving to his home, rather than calling 911 or stopping to help.
Under the plea deal, Tidwell now faces an expected term of eight months prison and had to give up his license to practice law.