Phila. cop sues Target Corp. for severe eye injuries sustained in attack by shoplifter

Nature 10A Philadelphia police officer is suing retailer Target and two John Doe defendants over injuries he allegedly sustained after an altercation with one of the men at the Target store at 7400 Bustleton Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia.

Attorney Jay L. Edelstein, of Edelstein Law, filed suit earlier this month at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against James Wagner, against Minneapolis-based Target Corp. and the two unidentified individuals over a March 1, 2011, incident that allegedly caused James Wagner to sustain severe injuries to his eye that required five surgeries undertaken to repair his eyesight.

On that spring day two years ago, the suit states, James Wagner was struck with a weapon wielded by the John Doe assailant after the officer responded to a police call at the Target store.

The incident caused the officer to sustain injuries including severe trauma to his right eye, orbital fracture, stellate wound of the right eye, a dislocated intraocular lens, loss of sight, retinal hemorrhage, optic nerve sheath hemorrhage, loss of lens, loss of iris, acute and traumatic glaucoma, memory loss, facial disfigurement, lacerations, and head, neck and back injuries, according to the complaint.

The officer claims he will likely be required to undergo additional medical procedures in an effort to correct his eyesight problems, something that has cost him and his wife a great deal of money.

Wagner also claims his job has taken a hit because of his injuries.

The lawsuit accuses Target of failing to immediately act to restrain the assailant with in-store security personnel before the man got to the point where he attacked the officer.

The John Doe defendants are accused of assault and battery while Target Corp. is accused of negligence and recklessness.

It was not clear from the suit who the second John Doe defendant was in relation to the incident.

The John Doe defendant who is accused of striking Wagner in the eye was allegedly previously known to Target as a shoplifter and someone who has committed assaults on others, according to the complaint.

Wagner also alleges that Target had reason to know that dangers would be presented to patrons of the store because that particular retail location is situated in a supposedly high-crime area.

Despite this apparent knowledge, the suit states, Target failed to employ the proper security measures to protect those lawfully in and around the property.

This week, Target’s legal counsel filed a removal notice in U.S. District Court, asserting that the civil action, originally filed in state court on June 13, belongs in the federal venue because there is diversity in citizenship and because the amount in damages sought by the plaintiffs appear to exceed the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania court.

“Based on Plaintiffs’ claims, it is believed that the amount in controversy in this matter exceeds Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($75,000.00), and satisfies the threshold for federal diversity jurisdiction,” wrote Target attorney Francis J. Grey, Jr., of the Philadelphia firm Lavin, O’Neil, Ricci, Cedrone & DiSipio.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-03670-TON.

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