Two employees who believed they were tracking down a shoplifter in south Eugene now find themselves as defendants in a $4.1 million lawsuit that alleges they stopped and assaulted an innocent bystander.

The two workers' employers, Safeway Inc. and Columbia Distributing, also are listed as defendants. Representatives from Safeway and Columbia did not respond to requests for comment on the suit.

The lawsuit was filed this month in Lane County Circuit Court by Caleb Tucker, who says he was in Tugman Park walking with some high school friends in May 2012 when he was tackled and injured by the Safeway worker, Dontee Norman-Prevost.

Norman-Prevost was working at the Safeway store at 350 E. 40th Ave. on May 18, 2012, and Joshua York, an employee for Columbia Distributing, was stocking beer at the store on that date, the suit alleges.

York saw young individuals stealing beer from the shelves and chased them outside to the parking lot, where he alerted Norman-Prevost about the shoplifting, the suit alleges.

Norman-Prevost and York jumped into York's Jeep to pursue the shoplifters and to recover their employers' property, the suit says. Having lost sight of the shoplifters, York drove to Tugman Park about a half-mile away in hopes of finding them, the suit says.

York drove his vehicle into the park via a pedestrian/?bicycle path and spotted Tucker and his friends there. York drove his vehicle rapidly toward the group, causing them to panic and flee in different directions, the lawsuit says.

Norman-Prevost promptly exited the Jeep, shouted at the youths and ran after Tucker, the lawsuit says. Norman-Prevost then tackled Tucker and ripped his backpack from his body, searching to see if it contained stolen merchandise, which it did not, according to the lawsuit.

As a result of the incident, Tucker has suffered a recurrent dislocation of his left shoulder; injuries to his left knee and elbow; aggravation of a pre-existing psoriatic arthritis condition; aggravation to his immune system and damage to his liver; mental and emotional anxiety; and interference with usual everyday activities, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit seeks damages of up to $2 million for those injuries, as well as $17,300 for medical expenses incurred; $50,000 for medical expenses anticipated; and $2.1 million for impairment of lifetime earning capacity.

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