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[JURY AWARDS DELIVERY DRIVER $23,000 AND MORE IN ASSAULT CASE]

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JURY AWARDS DELIVERY DRIVER $23,000 AND MORE IN ASSAULT CASE

A Guilford County jury held a BB&T vice-president liable for civil damages incurred when a delivery driver was assaulted at the bank headquarters last year in Winston-Salem.

The jury of eight women and four men took just a little more than 30 minutes on March 26 to reach the verdict after receiving lengthy instructions from Judge Brad Long.

Matt Cooley filed the suit last April with the help of attorney Raymond D. Large III. Cooley claimed he was working as a delivery driver for Jimmy John’s sandwich shop in downtown Winston-Salem when he was called on March 11, 2013 to make a delivery at 200 West Second St. That’s the corporate headquarters of BB&T.

Cooley, wearing a bicycle helmet and carrying a backpack, entered the glass office tower to make the delivery but had to receive a clearance code from a security guard before delivering to the 14 th floor.

While discussing the need for a code Cooley said he saw Benjamin Irving Payne listening to their conversation. Payne, whose LinkedIn profile lists him as a regional loan administrator of commercial real estate, rode up an elevator with Cooley.

According to papers filed with the court, Payne defended the bank’s security measures in conversation with Cooley and then got out of the elevator. Cooley made his delivery and rode an elevator back down, but claimed that Payne was waiting for him in the lobby and blocked his path to the exit.

What happened next is described in court papers as an assault. Cooley claimed in court papers that he was grabbed from behind as he tried to brush by Payne, lifted off his feet and thrown about “in a violent manner” and choked.

Payne claimed in court to have acted in self-defense, but the jury rejected his argument and found in favor of Cooley on all five questions the judge charged them to decide.

After awarding actual damages of $23,000 the jury was to have heard arguments for punitive damages. However, lawyers huddled in a conference room and reached a financial agreement that was sealed prior to the court being dismissed. !

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