A Pennsylvanian man spent four years in prison for nearly killing his girlfriend at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is now suing the casino for allegedly serving him too many drinks before the assault.
Nicholas Mullins, age 31, is still on probation for the assault that occurred January 2012. The casino stresses that Mullins alone is responsible for beating up his girlfriend, Caitlin Shields (of Pottsville), so badly that her brain swelled up and she almost died because of it.
However, according to his attorney Stuart Niemtzow, Mullins claimed that he has been the long-term victim in this mess, saying he wound up in prison and cannot find a decent job as a result of his conviction; not to mention having had his nose broken and being kneed in the groin during the altercation.
Niemtzow said, "His life is the one that got ruined here."
Being a Navy veteran, Mullins has claimed to have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in June 2012. He argues that Sands casino should have known he drank to the point of getting alcohol poisoning at another casino months prior to the incident. He added that his girlfriend was also allowed to drink, even though Niemtzow points out that Sands security knew that she was on probation for drunk driving at that time.
Mullins is suing the casino via the Dram Shop Act, a law written on the books in Pennsylvania and 37 other states. It states that businesses selling alcoholic drinks to visibly intoxicated individuals can be held liable for injuries they suffer as a result. Niemtzow said that Mullins was given 17 drinks before he and his girlfriend returned to their room and got into a fight.
A Northampton County jury heard Mullins' lawsuit on November 14, Monday, before which Common Pleas Judge Paula Roscioli expressed "shock" at Mullin's claim. Roscioli said, Shields "chooses not to file the suit against the Sands, but the man who ended up hitting her and causing her injuries, he wants to be compensated."
Mullins told police that after he lost $800, Shields attacked him, and says he only slapped her in self defense. However, police said a doctor concluded that Shields' head trauma was consistent with being punched repeatedly. She wasn't criminally charged.
Judge Roscioli issued her ruling on the third day of the trial after Mullins' attorneys rested their case. The judge found that it was Mullins alone who was legally responsible for his actions at that time, which the casino could not have reasonably foreseen.
Mullins said he had anticipated his suit will fail, but believes it was still worthwhile, "I wanted to bring attention to the fact that Sands casino over-serves people without care of the consequences. Maybe in the long run, it saves some lives."