A Raleigh-area businessman has agreed to settle a claim that an equipment manufacturer put him at risk by hiring a salesperson who he said brutally beat him for refusing to sign a sales agreement. He also claimed business damages after he said the alleged assaulter called clients and convinced one to stop doing business with his company.
Brian Baker, who started a business extracting liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes, will receive a $125,000 settlement from Waters Technologies Corporation and its former employee Jerry Roach, who he said committed the assault during a sales meeting at his house.
The alleged assault resulted in Baker suffering at least 10 head wounds and a concussion and required nearly $30,000 worth of dental work, according to Baker’s complaint. In addition, Baker claimed that Roach had a criminal history which the company knew about, and that it knowingly put him at risk by hiring him.
The sales meeting took place at Baker’s house in 2014, according to the complaint. Roach came to the meeting uninvited with Kevin Kenny, a prospective investor in Baker’s company, Xtraction Technologies Corp. A second investor also attended. Baker claims that as the meeting progressed, Roach and Kenny became intoxicated from drinking beer.
Eventually the second investor tentatively agreed to provide financing to purchase Waters equipment on behalf of Xtraction, according to the complaint. Roach then presented Baker with papers committing him to the purchase, asking him to sign them on the spot. When Baker refused, Baker claims Roach became abusive, insisting that he sign.
The second investor left soon thereafter, refusing the follow through with the investment. The complaint said that when Baker asked Roach to leave and took Roach by the arm to escort him out, Roach punched him, knocking him down, before jumping on top of him and hitting him until Baker blacked out.
Baker woke up shortly thereafter and called 911, the complaint said. He was taken to the emergency room where he was treated for extensive tissue damage and other head injuries.
Baker’s attorney, James White of Parry Tyndall White in Chapel Hill, said Roach was charged with DUI and assault, and a trial resulted in a hung jury. White said he believes it was the strange combination of torts that led to the successful settlement.
“If you look at the assault, it creates this visceral thing,” White said. “If you’re going to go in front of a jury and show them the pictures and describe the assault and talk about the follow up phone calls and loss of business, I think it was understandable that we were able to get the settlement that we did.”
Overall White said he thought mediation went well and that the results were fair.
“Our client was pleased with it,” White said. “I think he was happy to close the book on it.”
Attorneys John Byrd II of Hedrick Gardner in Raleigh and Michael Gibson of Dean & Gibson in Charlotte represented the defendants. They could not be reached for comment.
Follow Matthew Chaney on Twitter @NCLWChaney
SETTLEMENT REPORT — ASSAULT & BATTERY, TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE
Injuries alleged: Head injuries, concussion, medical bills, lost profits
Case name: Baker v. Waters Corporation and Roach
Court: Durham County Superior Court
Case No.: 17 CVS 10391
Mediator: Kenneth Carlson Jr.
Date of verdict: July 12
Attorneys for plaintiff: James White of Parry Tyndall White in Chapel Hill
Attorney for defendant: John Byrd II of Hedrick Gardner in Raleigh and Michael Gibson of Dean & Gibson in Charlotte