A Pennsylvania man who spent four years in state prison for beating his girlfriend nearly to death is suing the casino where the attack happened, alleging that they served him at least 15 drinks and thus bear some responsibility for what he did. “His life is the one that got ruined here,” the attorney of Nicholas Mullins told the Associated Press.
The AP reports that Mullins, now 31, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, served prison time and is still on probation for the January 2012 attack. Police accused him of trying to suffocate his girlfriend with a pillow in a hotel room at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem before beating her so badly she suffered brain swelling that could have proved fatal. (Mullins, in turn, claimed that his girlfriend hit him for losing $800 at the casino, and that he only “slapped” her in self-defense.)
Court records show that Mullins filed suit against the Sands Casino in 2014, but the case was set for a jury trial this week. In his complaint, as the Morning Call reports, Mullins says he was served at least 15 drinks while he was visibly intoxicated, in violation of Pennsylvania’s so-called Dram Shop law. (Dram Shop rules are on the books in 38 states, and holds that a business serving drinks to someone who is visibly intoxicated becomes liable for any injury caused by the intoxicated person.)
The AP reports that the judge selected to hear the case, Common Pleas Judge Paula Roscioli, expressed shock at the lawsuit, noting that Mullins’ victim hasn’t opted to sue the casino herself. Mullins’ attorney Stuart Niemtzow argued that the casino should have known he drank until he got alcohol poisoning at another casino months before, and that his girlfriend also shouldn’t have been served, as she was on probation for drunken driving.
Niemtzow also argued that Mullins’ life was, as he put it, “ruined” by his felony conviction, which made it hard for him to find a job. He also claims that his girlfriend broke his nose and kneed him in the groin during the argument.