Suing a store for something a customer did

By The Record | Jan 30, 2018

David Humphries must have no assets. Otherwise, Scott Stroud and Jennifer East might be sueing him instead of Academy Sports in Port Arthur.

Two years ago, Humphries exposed himself to Stroud's and East's minor daughters inside the store and allegedly sexually assaulted both of them. But Humphries was not an Academy employee, and Stroud and East were on the premises at the time.

Other store patrons detained Humphries until police arrived.

Humphries was presumably arrested and prosecuted, but Stroud and East could seek civil sanctions against him for the trauma he inflicted on their daughters, assuming he has sufficient assets – which he evidently doesn't.

That might explain why they filed suit early this year in Jefferson County District Court against the store seeking damages in excess of $1 million, ostensibly for mental anguish and medical expenses.

The store's security video shows Humphries entering the premises and minutes later  exposing himself to an Academy employee, who ran away. (Whether or not she reported the incident is unclear.)

“Defendant Academy was now on notice that a sex crime had been committed on its property during business hours and did not take any... action,” the suit alleges, “nor did Defendant warn any of the other shoppers that a potential sexual predator was stalking customers in the store.”

Unless the store had someone continuously monitoring its security video it's unlikely that the store was “on notice.” Stroud and East argue that Academy was negligent in failing to prevent Humphries from exposing himself and failing to issue an alert to customers.

They might have a case had Humphries strolled into the store buck naked or wearing a trench coat and no pants, but the thing about exhibitionists is that they tend to catch people off guard – which is what Humphries did, through no fault of the store.

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