The owner of a small Texas trucking company, whose 18-wheeler was used without permission by the Drug Enforcement Administration in a botched Zetas Cartel sting that left the driver dead, wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate his lawsuit.
Craig Patty is trying to sue the U.S. government for up to $6.4 million in damages over the November 2011 incident, which played out in broad daylight in northwest Houston.
"The facts of this case are straight out of a Hollywood movie and yet are completely true and undisputed," Houston lawyer Andy Vickery states in a petition recently sent to the nation's highest court.
The lawsuit suit was dismissed in March by a federal appeals court in New Orleans, but Patty has said from the start that his main goal was not to get rich but shed light on the case and have the facts be known.
Many of the government's motions filed in the case were kept under seal in order to protect the secrecy of DEA operations
The government contended that it needs the discretion when it comes to fighting crime and that it needed to use Patty's truck.
At the time of the attack, the bold narco violence seemed more like something that would happen in gangster-ravaged Mexico than Texas.
The truck was carrying a load of marijuana from the border to Houston and shadowed by numerous law-enforcement officers. It was run off the road and attacked by gangsters in three SUVs.
They shot to death the truck's driver, Lawrence Chapa, who was secretly working for DEA.
During the confusion, a plainclothes Houston Police officer shot and wounded a plainclothes Harris County sheriff's deputy.
Four men were convicted in Chapa's death. The last was Eric DeLuna, who had been charged with capital murder but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and received 30 years.
Patty's lawyers contend DEA has refused to pay for damages as well as protect him and his family from retaliation by the Zetas Cartel, one of the most violent of Mexico's underworld drug organizations.
"Patty sought compensation from the DEA for the damage to his truck and company and for police protection against cartel retaliation," said court papers recently sent to the Supreme Court for consideration. "He feared that the cartel might come after him on learning that the truck belonged to his company.
Patty's insurance refused to pay for repairs, saying that the drug was used in the commission of a crime, even though Patty did not know that his driver was working for DEA while on company time and using the company truck.
DEA's plan involved having Chapa drive the load of Zetas marijuana from the border to the Houston area, and that when it was delivered, federal agents and police would sweep in and make arrests.
The truck was attacked before it could reach its destination.