EASTON, Pa. — A Pennsylvania man who spent four years in prison for beating his girlfriend at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is suing the casino for allegedly serving him too many free drinks before the assault.
Nicholas Mullins, 31, is still on probation for the January 2012 assault. The casino contends Mullin alone is to blame for beating Caitlin Shields, of Pottsville, so badly that her brain swelled and she nearly died.
But Mullins claims he's the long-term victim because he wound up in prison and can't find a job as a result of his conviction —not to mention being kneed in the groin and having his nose broken during the argument, according to his attorney, Stuart Niemtzow.
"His life is the one that got ruined here," Niemtzow said.
A 31-year-old Navy veteran, Mullins has claimed to have post-traumatic stress disorder and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in June 2012. He contends the Sands should have known he drank to the point of having alcohol poisoning at another casino months before and that his girlfriend was also allowed to drink, even though Niemtzow contends Sands security knew she was on probation for drunken driving at the time.
Mullins is suing the Dram Shop Act, a law on the books in Pennsylvania and 37 other states. It holds that businesses selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated people can be held liable for injuries they suffer as a result. Mullins was given at least 15 drinks before he and Shields returned to their room and got into a fight, Niemtzow said.
A Northampton County jury was picked to hear Mullins' lawsuit Monday, before which Common Pleas Judge Paula Roscioli expressed "shock" at Mullins' claim.
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," Roscioli said.
Mullins told police Shields attacked him after he lost $800, and contends he only slapped her in self-defense. But a doctor concluded Shields' head trauma was consistent with being punched repeatedly, police said. She wasn't criminally charged.