Torrance hit-and-run victim's family sues rehab center that employed DUI driver

TORRANCE, Calif. (KABC) -- Sherri Lynn Wilkins, a drug and alcohol abuse counselor in Torrance, was driving drunk in 2012 when she slammed her car into 31-year-old Phillip Moreno.

Witnesses say Wilkins drove another two miles with Moreno imbedded in her windshield before other drivers forced her to stop near Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street.

"The pain we feel has not subsided as we approach the two-year anniversary of his death," said Marco Salgado, Moreno's brother-in-law.

The family of a man killed after being struck by a drug and alcohol abuse counselor who was driving drunk is now suing the Torrance rehab center that employed her.

Wilkins is now in prison, serving 55 years for Moreno's death. But Moreno's family is now suing the treatment center where Wilkins worked, claiming it failed to address her own substance abuse problems that they say were evident in the counseling sessions she presided over.

"Sherri Wilkins was clearly and obviously intoxicated during sessions. She appeared either on drugs or alcohol at various times," said Brian Kabatek, attorney for the Moreno family.

Officials from Twin Town Treatment Center refused to talk to Eyewitness News on camera, but in a written statement, the company says Wilkins wasn't working the day of the crash, wasn't driving a company vehicle and had not told company officials that she had relapsed.

"We had no cause to intrude or challenge her recovery. Disabled employee rights in the State of California, including privacy, are protected," said Twin Town's CEO David Lisonbee.

Kabatek says the family is hoping this case will force treatment centers across the country to test their staffs for drug and alcohol problems.

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.