PORTLAND, Ind. — A convicted burglar is suing a man who shot him during an attempted break-in. The civil lawsuit was filed last week in Jay County.
The homeowner in this case shot the suspect one time along a dirt alleyway in Dunkrik in 2014. The alarm on the detached garage went off and the owner saw a man running away from the building and opened fire. A jury later convicted the homeowner, David McLaughlin, of criminal recklessness.
The accused thief, David Bailey, pleaded guilty to burglary. Two years after the shooting, Bailey filed a civil suit claiming the homeowner acted recklessly in firing the gunshots.
McLaughlin’s attorney calls the lawsuit ridiculous.
“My client thinks it’s outrageous and I tend to agree,” said McLaughlin’s attorney Brian Pierce. “You don’t ordinarily expect someone to burglarize you and turn around and sue you for damages.”
According to the complaint, “As the plaintiff (Bailey) was running down the alley away from defendant’s residence, the defendant (McLaughlin) continued to the public right-of-way (and off his property) and continued firing his weapon down the dark alley.”
The lawsuit continues that the homeowner fired three shots.
One round hit the suspect in the back of the arm as he ran away. In fact, the complaint claims the homeowner told neighbors he “had no idea what he was firing at.”
The complaint concludes that McLaughlin “owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care when he exited his property and began firing gunshots down a dark alley.”
“I think the claim is absurd. In Indiana, every homeowner has a right to defend their property and that may include using a firearm,” said Pierce.
Pierce is confident the wounded would-be thief Bailey will not get a dime from the lawsuit.
“We believe the system will work this time and the plaintiff will not recover anything and Mr. McLaughlin will be vindicated for defending his property,” said Pierce.
The lawsuit claims the suspect never actually entered the homeowners garage and is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. Calls to Bailey and his attorneys were not returned.