The only sentiment robbers and burglars should feel is remorse, but that’s rarely the case. As if being terrorized by complete strangers in your own home or workplace isn’t bad enough, robbery and theft victims can be further aggravated by criminals who label themselves as victims.
The American legal system sometimes works in strange ways, which is why some criminals get lucky, while others get exactly what they deserve. Here are three cases of “victims” who almost fell into the former category.
The burglar who sued his intended target
In 2014, David Bailey broke into David McLaughlin’s garage. Alarmed at the intrusion, McLaughlin fired three shots at Bailey, who took the road less travelled and sued McLaughlin for damages.
According to Bailey’s lawsuit, he “never entered the defendant’s garage for the purpose of stealing property.” He was merely strolling in the dark alley adjacent to McLaughlin’s home while heading toward a friend’s house to pick up some fishing equipment.
His claim could have been plausible if it weren't for the burglary charge from the year before. He was given a three-year monitored home detention followed by a three-year probation.
But McLaughlin wasn’t let off the hook. He was charged with criminal recklessness for shooting at his supposed intruder and continuing to fire shots after Bailey had left the premises. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and four months of home detention.
The robber who sued the store owner and employees he tried to rob
In 2007, Scott Zielinski attempted to rob Nick’s Party Stop in Michigan. He got his hands on some cash, cigarettes, and liquor after holding the store’s employees, Justin and Jonathan Kallo, at knifepoint.
However, the employees fought back and roughed him up, for which Scott suffered a collapsed lung, fractured ribs, and lacerations. Aside from the physical injuries, Scott also suffered from mental anguish, anxiety, and loss of capacity to enjoy life as a result of getting caught. He sued for $125,000 for damages.
Shockingly, the judge allowed the case to go forward on one condition — he must post a $10,000 bail and pay for the defendants’ fees if he lost the case. Being a person of modest means, he failed to produce the amount required and got jailed.
This goes to show that while courts may allow criminals to sue unexpected parties (and party store owners in this case), doing so costs a lot more than a collapsed lung and some fractured ribs.
The intruder who sued his hostages
In 2009, newlyweds Jared and Lindsay Rowley’s worst nightmare came true when Jesse Dimmick broke into their home, held them hostage, and ate their snacks. He also made them promise not to call the cops, and they agreed.
In what hopefully wasn't foreshadowing of their recent vows to each other, the two broke their promise to Jesse and called the cops while he was napping. The police chased Jesse down, shot him, and threw him in the slammer.
The newlyweds also sued him for $75,000 in damages, but Jesse wouldn’t go down without a fight — he countersued for breaching a handwritten contract that stated the hostages wouldn’t call the cops.
When the judge dismissed his suit, he sued the police department for causing him digestive disorder and mental anguish for $400,000.
Thankfully, justice prevailed and nothing came of Jesse’s lawsuits.
None of this is to say you shouldn't defend yourself when facing physical harm, but maybe don't shoot the fleeing burglar or kick the crap out of the guy robbing you. It could come back to haunt you. And if you have questions about injuries resulting from theft, call Seattle personal injury lawyers Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams for advice.