The San Diego man who suffered brain damage when an electronics store security guard assaulted him after shoplifting has agreed to a settlement in his civil case.
Kevin Hoopfer stole a $35 laser pointer in September 2010 from the Fry’s Electronics in Murphy Canyon.
Attorneys for the former IT and computer repair specialist said he was jumped by a store security guard and thrown head-first onto the concrete, causing traumatic brain injury.
Moments before jurors were to return with damages in the civil trial, Hoopfer reached a settlement with Fry’s. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Jury foreperson Camille Davidson said that they had decided to give Hoopfer $10 million total for medical costs, pain and suffering -- plus lost earnings. Jurors had also agreed to go on to a second phase of the trial where they would decide additional punitive damages.
“We felt that the punishment did not fit the crime," said Davidson. "You know, he stole an item worth less than $40. He could have been asked to come back into the store. He could have been just asked to hand it over. Anything should have happened rather than him being physically assaulted.”
She also said the jury believed the Fry’s security guard was wrong to take Hoopfer to the ground without first asking him to give up the item.
“I frankly think that your ability to function is priceless," Davidson said. "And so there's no amount of money that's going to be able to compensate him for the damage not only to his physical self, but to his life.”
In the lawsuit, Hoopfer’s attorneys said life-time care for her client would cost more than $5 million. The plaintiff sought an additional $20-25 million for emotional damage in addition to pain and suffering.
Hoopfer now lives in a care-home and has difficulties setting goals, planning and solving problems according to his attorney. His symptoms include headaches and depression.
Jurors had already agreed the security guard was negligent and committed assault and battery however the defense argued that Hoopfer resisted efforts to surrender the item.
Fry’s also cited expert testimony claiming that he is not actually brain damaged. The defense had offered to pay a maximum $100,000 settlement before the case went to the jury.
Instead of taking their chances with the jury, which had deliberated for three days, both sides just hours ago agreed to the confidential settlement.