You know, especially given all the time we spent together and the long talks we had after I invaded your home and held you at knifepoint, I thought you were people I could trust. We shared a meal together, for God’s sake. Yes, it was just Cheetos and Dr. Pepper, but I was so hungry from a long day of fleeing that to me it was like Thanksgiving. We even watched “Patch Adams,” because you said that’s what you wanted to watch, not because I like that movie. But the minute I fall asleep, you go and escape, which meant the police could come in and arrest me. I mean, I thought we had an understanding.
And that is why I’m suing you for breach of contract.
Something like that may have been in the mind of Jesse Dimmick, who sued Jared and Lindsay Rowley last month. Dimmick was convicted in May 2010 of four felonies, including two counts of kidnapping, for a 2009 incident in which he held the Rowleys against their will for several hours. Dimmick was fleeing a murder charge in a stolen van when he drove over some spikes laid by Topeka police. The van came to rest in the Rowleys’ front yard, and Dimmick then invited himself in at knifepoint to enjoy some involuntary hospitality.
This report doesn’t say how long the standoff lasted, but it was at least 115 minutes. “A neighbor told the Topeka Capital-Journal in September 2009 that the couple gained [Dimmick’s] trust by eating Cheetos and drinking Dr. Pepper with him while watching the movie ‘Patch Adams,'” the 1998 film in which Robin Williams earned a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of the unorthodox doctor/clown. Whether it was “Patch Adams” or just the passage of time that put Dimmick to sleep is unclear, but sleep he did and out the Rowleys went. The police then entered, and Dimmick was accidentally shot in the back while he was being subdued.
Various lawsuits followed. Dimmick sued the city of Topeka over the shooting, and (possibly because of the prospect that he might get money from that suit) the Rowleys sued Dimmick last September for trespass, intrusion and negligent infliction of emotional distress. That seems to have given Dimmick the idea to sue the Rowleys, and he brought a counterclaim against them for breach of contract.
You see, Dimmick alleges that, after breaking into the Rowleys’ home with a knife and gun, they all then sat down and hashed out a deal under which they would hide him from police (the police who were right outside) for an unspecified amount of money. “Later,” he complained, “the Rowleys reneged on said oral contract, resulting in my being shot in the back by authorities.” Ergo, breach of contract.
Um, no, wrote the Rowleys’ attorney in a motion to dismiss earlier this month. He had multiple arguments, all very good ones, as to why a contract claim would not fly here. First, there was no agreement. Second, if there was an agreement, there was no meeting of the minds on the amount of money (Dimmick admitted the “offer” was for “an unspecified amount”), and so no binding contract. Third, agreements made at knifepoint are, you may be surprised to learn, not enforceable as they are made “under duress.” Finally, a contract to do something illegal (e.g. hide a fugitive) is also not enforceable.
Mr. Dimmick is representing himself.