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Jury awards $250K to man falsely imprisoned by Six Flags security

A Prince George’s County Circuit Court jury has awarded $250,000 to a man who was falsely imprisoned by Six Flags America security guards while searching shirtless for his lost son on Father’s Day 2018.

The award on Friday followed a prior jury’s $800,000 verdict for Nicholaus Mims in 2019 that was overturned on appeal last year.

Governor E. Jackson III, an attorney for Mims, attributed the $550,000 drop in jury awards in part to the fact Mims’ actual medical expenses as of last month were lower than those anticipated by jurors at the first trial, which was conducted soon after the incident at the Bowie amusement park.

Jackson also said the 2019 jury found Six Flags liable for assault as well as false imprisonment, whereas the jury this year found liability only for false imprisonment.

“Every jury is different,” said Jackson, of the Law Offices of Governor Jackson III LLC in Towson.

In overturning the 2019 verdict, the Court of Special Appeals said Mims’ counsel improperly implied during closing arguments that Six Flags destroyed surveillance video showing the guards throwing Mims to the ground, placing him in a chokehold and handcuffing him. The implication unfairly prejudiced the jury against Six Flags as no evidence of destruction had been introduced during the trial, the appellate court ruled in ordering a new trial.

At the second, three-day trial, no reference was made to the allegedly destroyed video, Jackson said Wednesday.

Donald R. Huskey, who served as Jackson’s co-counsel, said in a statement Tuesday that “a quarter of a million dollars awarded for being falsely imprisoned is a significant message to rebuke the corporation’s actions.”

“This jury sent a message to Six Flags America and any other business serving Blacks, or any other individual in America, that you will not treat any person differently,” added Huskey, of the Law Offices of Donald R. Huskey LLC in Owings Mills. “A guest is a guest and should be treated in a friendly and respectful way.”

Neither Six Flags, which denied the allegations, nor its attorney, David A. Skomba, immediately responded Wednesday to a request for comment on the jury’s verdict.

Skomba is with  Franklin & Prokopik PC in Baltimore.

According to Mims’ complaint, he, his wife and their children were visiting the water park area of Six Flags on June 17, 2018. Mims took off his shirt and noticed one of his children had wandered away; Mims left to look for him and saw the child in an arcade, according to the complaint.

While Mims was on the phone telling his wife his location, a Six Flags employee told him he had to put on a shirt to comply with the park’s dress code. Mims explained the situation, but the employee contacted security, according to the complaint.

Two security guards arrived and told Mims he had to leave the park because he was not wearing a shirt. Mims told security he was waiting for his wife who had his shirt and was profanely voicing his frustration with the situation when a guard removed his mace from his belt.

Mims walked toward the park exit with security and three other guards arrived to escort him to the gate, according to the complaint. After exiting, Mims was told by a security guard he was being arrested for disorderly conduct and, when he pulled his arm from the man’s grasp, Mims claimed he was thrown to the ground, beaten and handcuffed.

Mims, who sustained a concussion, was detained in a holding cell on the Six Flags premises until Prince George’s County Police arrived and ordered him released because there was no basis to charge him, according to the complaint.

Six Flags countered that Mims was neither assaulted nor falsely imprisoned. Rather, he was the aggressor and security acted in self-defense, Six Flags stated.

The case was docketed at Prince George’s County Circuit Court as Mims v. Six Flags America, No. CAL18-26682.