Derek Whitener knew something was wrong the night of Jan. 14, when he stopped at the Target on Haskell Avenue. He was nervous enough to alert security to the presence of two menacing teens who appeared to be searching the parking lot for unlocked cars, one of whom was armed with a large wooden rod. But it didn’t help. As he exited the store, the teens beat him viciously, leaving him with a fractured skull that required an induced coma.
Now, East Dallas attorney Chris Hamilton is representing Whitener in a lawsuit that claims Target was negligent that night. Hamilton told the Dallas Morning News his client was told not call the police, and assured that Target security would handle the incident. According to security tapes, the teens did leave the area briefly, but then returned to wait for Whitener. The DMN reported that the teens sought to punish the Dallas theater director for notifying security. They were later arrested.
The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages, stating that the attack left Whitener with permanent brain damage and physical limitations. Hamilton told DMN that the crime is one of more than 200 reported at the Cityplace Target in the past three years, demonstrating a pattern of negligent behavior.
It is not the first time Hamilton has taken on a juggernaut like Target. In January he helped lead the local charge against the federal government’s travel ban that left Dallas refugees detained at DFW airport.
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