Judge: Drunken man, not casino, to blame for attack

EASTON (AP) — A man who drunkenly assaulted his fiancee last year and now can’t find a job because of his conviction and prison sentence has no one to blame but himself, a judge said Wednesday in throwing out his lawsuit against a casino he accused of serving him too many free drinks.

Northampton County Judge Paula Roscioli ruled midway through the civil trial that 31-year-old Nicholas Mullins was the only one responsible for his actions in January 2002 inside his hotel room at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, The (Allentown) Morning Call reported.

Mullins, who downed 17 drinks, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to two to four years in prison.

Defense attorney Stuart Niemtzow said his client was also injured and now can’t find employment. Niemtzow vowed to appeal the ruling.

Mullins, a Navy veteran, cited the Dram Shop Act, a law on the books in Pennsylvania and 37 other states that says businesses selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated people can be held liable for injuries they suffer as a result.

Mullins told police that his fiancee attacked him after he lost $800 and contends he only slapped her in self-defense. A doctor concluded that her injuries were consistent with being punched repeatedly.

Casino attorney Kevin Ruane said the attack occurred “well after” Mullins finished drinking. Hotel records showed that the couple entered their room at about 1:30 a.m., three hours before the assault was reported, he said.

The judge decided to throw out the lawsuit after the defense rested its case. She said the casino could not have reasonably foreseen Mullins’ actions.

Mullins said Wednesday he had anticipated that his suit would fail but believed it was worthwhile anyway.

“I wanted to bring attention to the fact that Sands casino overserves people without care of the consequences,” Mullins said. “Maybe in the long run, it saves some lives.”