OAKLAND -- The parents of a UC Berkeley student who was killed, along with her 6-year-old son, in a drunken-driving crash last year have filed a salacious lawsuit against the university and the driver who killed their daughter and grandson.
The 30-page lawsuit was filed five days before Jose Lumbreras, 25, pleaded no contest to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The plea entry halted a criminal trial that was expected to begin this week and resulted in Lumbreras facing 12 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.
But for the parents of Milanca Lopez, 22, Lumbreras' girlfriend, who was killed in the crash, a criminal punishment isn't enough.
The parents are seeking an unspecified amount of money from Lumbreras, UC Berkeley and university employees who had contact with the couple while they lived in campus housing.
In doing so, the parents, Medardo and Margarita Lopez, have accused Lumbreras of physically and mentally abusing their daughter in the months before the crash and claim the university should have known about the abuse and prevented further damage.
"They feel there is a story here that hasn't been told," said Richard Richardson, who along with Joel Siegal, filed the lawsuit. "This is a tragedy, it's unbearable."
The accusations made in the suit, however, differ drastically from characterizations of the relationship made by some people before Lopez was killed. At that time, sources said, people described Lopez and Lumbreras as being madly in love.
But in the lawsuit, Lopez's parents claim that Lumbreras used his position as a graduate student and teacher to lure their daughter into a relationship that he eventually began to dominate through mental and physical abuse.
Among the numerous descriptions of abuse claimed in the lawsuit is a January 2012 incident during which Lumbreras is accused of forcing Lopez to have sex with him in front of her 6-year-old child.
The university should be held responsible for Lumbreras' actions, the suit claims, because it employed Lumbreras as a graduate student teacher and because it should have had knowledge of the ongoing abuse.
Dan Mogulof, spokesman for the university, said the school just received the lawsuit and does not have enough information to comment on the claims and accusations.
"We deeply regret the loss of innocent life in this horrible accident and know how difficult this must be for Ms. Lopez's family," Mogulof said.
Richardson and Siegal said some of the abuse allegations came from a police report that was written after the crash. That report was based, in part, on statements from other students who knew the couple, the San Francisco lawyers said.
Lopez was killed after Lumbreras drove a car into a tree at 65 mph near the corner of California Street and Allston Way in Berkeley on May 18, 2012.
Lumbreras had a blood-alcohol level of .16 percent, twice the legal limit, two hours after the crash. Lopez had a .11 blood alcohol level. Neither was wearing a seat belt; Lopez's son, Xavier, was wearing a seat belt but was not in a booster seat.
The crash occurred after the couple had spent the night drinking in celebration of their graduations. Lopez had just received her bachelor's degree and was headed to graduate school at UCLA. Lumbreras had just received his master's degree and planned to work on a doctoral degree.
Paul Wolf, Lumbreras' criminal defense attorney, declined to comment.