Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” I have been injured on another person’s property. What should I do now?”
Police responding to a burglary at the Radio Shack across from Concord Mills Mall in Concord, North Carolina found smashed-out windows and one suspect, who they removed from the scene in handcuffs. Police tracked down a second suspect a short time later, injured from a possible fall in a wooded area. Rescue crews used a stretcher to extricate the man.
Sykes forced his way through the back door of the Newport, Delaware restaurant Seasons Pizza on November 30, 2010. Sykes held up employees using a handgun; they gave him $140. As Sykes made his way to the front of the store, however, employees wrestled him to the ground and grabbed his handgun.
After that, Sykes alleged, all of the Seasons Pizza employees began punching, kicking and pouring hot soup on his body. He alleged that he suffered “a brutal beating” that ended with him being knocked unconscious. Sykes brought suit in federal court seeking $260,000 in compensation from the restaurant. He also sued two Newport police officers who he said used stun guns on him improperly and denied him access to medical attention.
Newport Police Chief Michael Capriglione called Sykes’ action a “joke lawsuit,” but United States District Court Judge Sue L. Robinson rejected motions to dismiss brought by Seasons, the employees and the two police officers, clearing the way for a potential trial on Sykes’ claims.
Sykes filed his lawsuit from prison, where he is serving a 15-year sentence for robbery and attempted robbery. It is not the first lawsuit he brought related to injuries he said he sustained in the Seasons robbery. In 2011, he filed a complaint in which he alleged that an unknown assailant robbed him at gunpoint and then forced him to rob Seasons Pizza.
He said he informed Seasons employees that he was being forced to hold up the pizza restaurant by someone outside. In the earlier lawsuit, Sykes claimed that Seasons employees administered an “unnecessary” beating using pots and pans, rendering him unconscious. When he awoke, he said, he realized he “was handcuffed and being tasered.”
At the time of his arrest, Sykes was linked to some eight other area robberies. He pled guilty to five counts in July 2011, resolving some 51 counts levelled against him relating to the Seasons robbery. After he entered a guilty plea, Sykes sought to withdraw it, claiming he had been under the influence of medication at the time he made the plea.
The Delaware Supreme Court rejected Sykes’ attempt to withdraw the plea after Sykes admitted that he was “not good at making good choices.”
Sykes’ novel claims would likely not survive in North Carolina, where courts employ a doctrine known as strict contributory negligence in personal injury lawsuits. Under the doctrine, if a person is partially to blame for one’s injuries, the lawsuit must be dismissed.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone’s negligent or intentional conduct, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up an appointment today. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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