I am writing from Michigan. On Dec 8th 2017, my 14 yr old son was at a movie theater with friends, a boy he did not know approached him 3 times calling him vulgar names. The boy was almost 2 yrs older than my son and 5 inches taller, with a bit of weight on him.
My son was absolutely bewildered by his verbal attacks (3 witnesses came forward to say this older boy specifically asked them if that was my son, again, my son did not know him, and then he “jogged” after my son). On the 3rd approach, the boy once again instigated my son telling him he wanted to fight. My son said he wasn’t going to fight him.
My son went to walk away and this bigger, older boy sucker punched him, breaking his jaw in half. My son was hospitalized for 3 days, required a 4 hr surgery to put in titanium plates, wire his jaw shut and remove teeth. My son couldn’t go to school for a month, lost 18lbs, and requires 2 more surgeries.
The boy turned himself into police saying it was in retaliation for something my son did to one of his friends a few months prior. My son is the sweetest kid, has never been in a fight in his life, is a coach for a special needs football team, and didn’t even know who this kid was.
The detective is charging the boy with aggravated assault and battery, according to ALL eyewitnesses it was completely unprovoked by my son. No one even knew who this other boy was for a few hours before he turned himself in. He then changed his story to say that my son threatened him inside the theater and he was afraid for himself. Witnesses all deny this happened.
The case is on the prosecutor’s desk right now, but I am told that there is no damages my son can collect because the boy was only 16, his father is not responsible, and homeowners won’t pay because it was an act of intent. My son needs to also have therapy, besides the surgery to remove his wires, and then a surgery in the summer to remove the plates in his jaw.
What can I do?
Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.
Michigan Compiled Laws Section 600.2193 states in part:
“A…person may recover damages in an amount not to exceed $2,500.00 in a civil action in a Michigan court against the parents or parent of an unemancipated minor, living with his or her parents or parent who has maliciously or willfully caused bodily harm or injury to a person.”
Presuming the boy who struck your son was an unemancipated minor (still living at home while dependent upon his parents), you may pursue a civil action against the boy’s parents. Unfortunately, the maximum amount parents are responsible for is only $2,500.
To recover that amount you can ask the parents directly, relying on Section 600.2193, or by filing a lawsuit against them in one of Michigan’s Small Claims Courts.
Michigan’s Small Claims Courts have jurisdiction over claims of up to $6,000. As a result, the maximum amount you might be able to recover against the boy’s parents, even in a small claim lawsuit would be $6,000.
Another option would be considering a civil action against the movie theater based on negligence. Movie theater owners have a legal duty to take any reasonable action to protect theater goers from undue harm or injury. This includes providing sufficient lighting, security, unobstructed floors, etc.
It is arguable the theater personnel knew, or should have known an altercation was about to take place, and with that knowledge, did nothing to thwart the assault. It can be argued, if the movie theater had in place adequate security personnel, or if movie theater employees had appropriate training, the incident could have been thwarted before it devolved into an unprovoked assault upon your son.
Because of the seriousness of your son’s injuries you would be best-served by seeking the advice and counsel of several personal injury attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for an initial office consultation.
Gather copies of your son’s medical records, the police report, witness statements, and any other documentation you have related to the assault and visit with several personal injury attorneys in your area. Once you do, you will have a better idea of the viability of your son’s injury claim, and the probability of success.
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The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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