A Dallas pizzeria owner who beat a customer with a metal pipe and forced him to strip after he suspected the man of credit card fraud two years ago is being sued by the assumed thief.
The lawsuit by Hermilo Aguilar-Martinez, reported by Courthouse News Service (CNS), seeks damages from Pizza Lounge co-owner Michael Liebermann for assault, vicarious liability and intentional infliction of emotional distress over the Oct. 13, 2010 incident.
According to a Dallas Morning News account at the time, Liebermann beat Aguilar, then 61, with a pipe outside his restaurant after the man tried to use someone else's credit card to pay his $17.80 bill. He then forced him to take off his clothes.
Liebermann, then 48, was initially charged with a misdemeanor after turning himself in. A police report quoted him as saying he attacked the would-be thief because "he was sick and tired of this type of thing happening at his business." He said he ordered Aguilar to take off his pants because he feared he might have a weapon and he refused to take his hands out of his pockets.
A police official, Deputy Chief Craig Miller, told the News, "To get a person who has committed a crime and get them to where they're stripped naked is very demeaning to a person and to inflict injuries is inappropriate."
While a local artist had some fun over the incident, two years later Aguilar isn't laughing.
In his lawsuit, according to CNS, Aguilar says when his card was declined, "Liebermann became angry, ordered plaintiff to leave, and then escorted plaintiff outside the restaurant with the aid of an employee of Pizza Lounge, Kyle Bachman," the complaint states.
"Liebermann began assaulting plaintiff about his upper legs and body by striking plaintiff with a metal pipe or broom/mop handle," it continued. Aguilar says the restaurant owner next "instructed" him "to remove his clothes" and when he "did not comply, defendant Liebermann removed plaintiff's clothes and then continued striking plaintiff's unclothed body."
The complaint states that Liebermann was eventually indicted on a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, to which he pleaded guilty.
Police detectives determined at the time that Aguilar-Martinez suffered bruises and abrasions over his body but that the injuries did not include broken bones or cuts requiring stitches.
Although Aquilar was arrested and taken to jail, a grand jury later determined there wasn't enough evidence to try him for felony credit card abuse.
A witness eating at a nearby restaurant told the News that he thought Liebermann was the one who should have been arrested.
"He was hitting this old man repeatedly and basically he made him remove his clothes to where he was just completely naked," said John Beach. "The guy grabbed his genitalia and curled up in a ball and he was moaning."