According to a decision rendered by a three-judge state appellate court, Brian LeSage of Berkeley Heights sued JC Penney and the mall for negligence after claiming he was assaulted while urinating in a JC Penney restroom on Sept. 14, 2003.
Court papers say LeSage stopped in the mall to use the men’s room on the way to a coin show in Burlington. LeSage testified that he recalled “being pushed or feeling something touch his back” but
recalled little else before he was found on his knees on the men’s room floor at about 11:20 that morning.
In a premises liability action, LeSage was joined as a plaintiff by his wife, Donna. They attempted to prove that someone assaulted Brian, that JC Penney negligently provided security in the men’s room and that the negligence was the proximate cause of traumatic head injuries that Lesage claimed he suffered in the assault. LeSage, who was 58 at the time, lapsed into a coma for two weeks after the incident. He also claimed he was missing $400 cash from his pocket after the attack.
During the jury trial in Superior Court, New Brunswick, in March 2008, JC Penney suggested that LeSage might have confused the touching with that of persons assisting him after the incident. JC Penney also introduced evidence that LeSage had fainted while urinating at his home three months earlier. LeSage’s personal physician testified that the fainting resulted from low blood pressure brought on, in part, by dehydration.
At trial, the jury delivered an 8-0 verdict after deliberating 90 minutes, finding that JC Penney was not negligent. The jury, therefore, did not have to decide whether the negligence was the proximate cause of LeSage’s injury or what damages would compensate him.
The trial court also granted summary judgment to Woodbridge Center mall, which it said owed no duty to secure the restroom on the premises JC Penney owned.
LeSage, his wife, their attorney or the attorney for JC Penny could be immediately reached for comment.