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The family of an Amherst man killed in a hit-and-run fatality last month today sued former attorney Drew V. Tidwell, driver of the death car, for $7 million.

The lawsuit filed by the family of Donald E. Fruehauf charges that Tidwell consumed "excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages to render him impaired" on the night of Aug. 17, when Fruehauf was struck and killed on Getzville Road.

"The death (was) caused by the gross negligence, the wanton negligence, the criminal negligence and/or criminal recklessness of . . . Drew V. Tidwell," according to the action filed in State Supreme Court by William J. Love Jr., attorney for the Fruehauf family.

Tidwell, 51, a former partner in a prominent Buffalo law firm, was not immediately available to comment on the lawsuit. Michael S. Taheri, his criminal attorney, declined to comment on the allegation that Tidwell's driving was impaired by alcohol that night.

"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. 3) 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 a plea deal reached with the Erie County district attorney's office several weeks later, Tidwell pleaded guilty to a felony charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident. He faces an expected eight-month prison term and had to give up his license to practice law.

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