A Government Printing Office messenger who was shot in the face during an argument at a Capitol Hill laundromat in 1975 has won a $2 million jury verdict in D.C. Superior Court against the owner, a Silver Spring lawyer.
Thomas Johnson, 33, of Naylor Road SE, won a $800,000 jury verdict against attorney Milton Weinberg in 1982, but Weinberg won a new trial to determine the damages on grounds that the original amount was excessive. It was the retrial, before Judge Virginia L. Riley, that resulted in the jury award Wednesday of $2 million.
Johnson's lawyer, Harold A. Sakayan, speculated that the jury might have been moved by the fact that his client had not been wounded while fighting in Vietnam but was severely disfigured in the incident here. "It was a moral victory," Sakayan said.
Weinberg, who represented himself during the trial, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The shooting incident occurred Jan. 28, 1975, in a self-service laundromat at 236 E St. NE, Sakayan said during the trial.
Johnson went to the laundromat that day to wash his shirts, and then returned to his home a block away, Sakayan said. When Johnson returned to the laundromat about 30 minutes later, his shirts were missing, his attorney said.
When Johnson asked the attendant on duty at the establishment about the shirts, he said he knew nothing about them, Sakayan said. Johnson returned three more times that afternoon to ask about the shirts, his lawyer said. On his fourth visit about 6 p.m. that day, the attendant, Ezeal Boyd of Southeast, fired a shotgun blast that tore away a portion of Johnson's face, Sakayan said.
More than 100 pellets, most of which could not be removed, were found imbedded in Johnson's spine and neck, Sakayan said.
As a result of the wounds, Sakayan said, Johnson's left arm is partially paralyzed.
Boyd died before the first trial in 1980. In that trial, D.C. Superior Court Judge Paul F. McArdle gave Weinberg a directed verdict. Johnson appealed and won a new trial, which resulted in the $800,000 jury verdict.