A New York bodega is being sued after a worker fatally stabbed a man in self-defense while on duty. The deceased brother filed a lawsuit saying his brother’s death was unwarranted and was a result of poor crisis training by the owner.
David Simon, the brother of Austin Simon, is suing the Blue Moon Convenience store in Hamilton Heights, a neighborhood in the northern part of Manhattan and northwestern part of the village of Harlem, for the man’s July 1, death.
The lawsuit filed by the family’s attorney, Kathleen Beatty, claims the store is responsible for the conduct of its employee, Jose Alba, who stabbed the 35-year-old Austin after he went behind the counter and attacked the older man to avenge a slight involving Austin’s girlfriend and her daughter.
Immediately after Austin’s death, the 61-year-old worker was arrested and sent to Rikers Island for close to a week, charged with the murder of the man who charged him first. Originally his bond was $250,000, but eventually, it was lowered.
In a letter sent to the store on Aug. 22, Beatty wrote, “We intend to make a claim for damages as a result of the injuries sustained by our client.”
The lawyer continues by saying, Austin was murdered “due to negligence in the ownership, security, hiring of employees, retention of employees, training of employees, and management of your premises.”
According to the New York Post, who received the letter, the attorney reached out to the store and asked them to “preserve” any evidence that could be used for the case, including witness information, surveillance videos, and incident reports.
Beatty further asked the store to provide information about its insurance coverage.
Francisco Marte, the head of a bodega association, says Blue Moon Convenience was not insured at the time of Austin’s premature demise.
“The family is just pushing to see if they can get money from the store owner,” Marte said. “This is a shakedown.”
Marte said the owner has now gotten insured because he carries the fear of losing everything.
“He is afraid that this might wipe him out,” Marte shares. “All the money he had he used to fix the store. He put everything in it. He even borrowed money. He owes money right now.”
He is also afraid he will be getting sued, even though on July 19, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Officer dropped all criminal charges connected to Austin’s death citing insufficient evidence, particularly after viewing the video footage of Austin attacking Alba.
“If they can sue the place, they will come after [Alba] also,” Marte remarked. “He is very, very concerned about this because he has no money — so he is keeping a low profile.” Alba reportedly returned to his native Dominican Republic to live after the charges against him were dropped.
Now, a lawsuit looks imminent, and Marte believes if the claim goes to trial, and the trial is decided by a jury, his client has nothing to worry about.
“I don’t believe any jury will rule in their favor because it was self-defense,” he said.
Another person was attacked at the Blue Moon Convenience on Aug. 19 around 6:30 p.m. Osamah Aldhabyani, 33, was working his 12-hour shift and came into the store causing a ruckus.
“The guy came in the store and started scaring the customers,” Aldhabyani said. “He grabbed two Monsters [energy drinks] and left. I thought that was the end of it, but he came back three minutes later.”
This time the guy confronted the convenience store worker, saying he “has a real problem” with Aldhabyani.
According to the employee, the robber “came behind the counter and asked me for money and Black & Milds.”
“I told him to leave me alone because I didn’t want any problems,” Aldhabyani continued. “He started tossing things behind the counter and … after I pushed him outside, we started fighting. I put him on the floor and held him there until the police came.”