LONG BEACH - The legal battle is getting ugly between a local man, once dubbed a hero for wrestling an armed robber to the ground, and the bank where the crime occurred.
Long Beach resident Rich Camp made headlines across the Southland when he took on the suspected and long- sought "Sport Bike Bandit" during a takeover robbery at the Farmers & Merchants Bank branch on Bellflower Boulevard and 23rd Street on March 5. Camp was able to subdue Lockwood, but was hit by gunfire as the suspect flailed wildly. Also struck by the gunfire were Lockwood and two customers.
Camp and his Irvine-based attorney, Eric Dubin, announced on March 18 that Camp had filed suit against the bank after its only response was to send flowers
F&M President Daniel Walker defended the bank's actions at that time, saying the flowers were an immediate gesture he personally ordered for all of the customers hurt that day, as well as all the bank employees.
The luncheon was something Walker personally set up so that he and the rest of the bank's executive officers - there are four total - could meet with Camp, thank him in person and hear his story before deciding what to do next, Walker said.
Camp responded by hiring a lawyer, Walker added.
Camp and Dubin have hit back hard, launching a media blitz Monday that included talking to national TV networks and newspapers about an amendment to the suit that now alleges the
That included the release of surveillance stills Camp was able to get from the bank as part of the legal process which show Camp tackling the suspected robber.
F&M representatives declined comment Monday, citing the ongoing litigation.
In the amended lawsuit, filed last week, Camp alleges the bank launched a smear campaign against him to destroy his image in the public, which had largely considered
The amended suit charges bank representatives lied when they told media outlets the bank offered to pay all Camp's medical bills and yet Camp insisted on suing.
That led to a massive backlash, with Camp branded "a loser" and "greedy", the suit states, noting that a Google search of Camp's name turns up page after page of negative responses.
"Rich is literally a meat- and-potatoes, hard-working American boy," Dubin said Monday. "It's really hit him where it hurts. He doesn't understand, and I don't understand, why they they won't just pay his medical bills."
The filing goes on to accuse the bank of offering only $10,000 toward Camp's $75,000 in medical bills earlier this month and telling Camp he had to write a letter to the Press-Telegram - which broke the story of the lawsuit - taking responsibility for the shooting.
"(Mr. Camp's) apology will be in the form of a letter to the editor of the Long Beach Press-Telegram signed by him, the gist of which will be:
The suspected robber is Robert Gordon Lockwood, 51, of Long Beach, who is awaiting trial in federal court.
(Mr. Camp) acknowledges that F&M has done nothing to endanger him or any other customer.
(Mr. Camp) acknowledges that F&M (Bank's) design and security procedures comply with industry standards.
(Mr. Camp) acknowledges that he made a mistake by suing F&M and apologizes for doing so.
"Once he agrees to the foregoing we can talk about other aspects of the case."
Such a letter would not only be a lie, but an act of public humiliation, Dubin said Monday.
"It would have been `Go pull your pants down and we'll spank you in public,"' Dubin said.
Dubin said Camp actually requested less than his total medical bills, and the response from F&M was, "it (the $10,000 offer) is a `take it or leave it' proposal and is surprisingly magnanimous for someone who got himself and two other people shot."
The suit alleges the bank told Camp to "cut his losses" and accept the $10,000 and sign the letter.
"The bank states: `Depending on how pumped up (Dubin) got (Camp) with all
The amended filing now supersedes the original suit, but still charges that the bank failed to protect Camp and the other customers and employees during a "rash of violent bank robberies in the Long Beach area."
The previous robberies were detailed in an FBI press release in February when authorities asked for the public's help in stopping the "Sport Bike Bandit," who was nicknamed for his use of a sport motorcycle and riding gear during a two-year crime spree, Dubin noted.
In the release, the FBI said the armed and dangerous suspect had hit at least seven banks in cities such as Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Rancho Palos Verdes and Pasadena. In at least one of those crimes, the suspect temporarily held a woman hostage.
Dubin said in March that Camp was facing "at least a year of surgery, rehabilitation and very likely will be disabled for the rest of his life."
He noted Camp had a wife and baby at home and was self-employed as a general contractor and could not work.
On Monday, Dubin said Camp had the bullet that was lodged in his leg removed but suffered a serious infection and has at least two more months of physical therapy ahead of him.
"He's a one man general contractor and he can't work, he can't climb a ladder with power tools if his knee is giving out," Dubin said.
"We're hoping he'll be able to bounce back," Dubin added. "It's killing him the pressure he's putting on his wife."
Camp and Dubin said in March that when Camp asked about a reward, he was told he did not qualify for one. When he later heard from the bank it was to offer to buy him lunch, they said.
He was also told he "could bring his wife along if he wished," Dubin said.
The bank, under state law, had a duty to provide a safe environment in light of the rash of armed robberies and "clearly failed to do so," Dubin charged.
While Walker was unable to address specific issues in the original lawsuit in March, including accusations that the security officers failed in their duties, Walker did say the accusation that the bank failed to acknowledge Camp's efforts was untrue.
"In (Camp's) eyes, he risked his life, which we didn't want him to do and don't want anyone to do, and the bank just ignored him completely? That would be a sad day," Walker said.
F&M acknowledged Camp and wanted to work with him, Walker insisted.
Walker also said the bank, in the event of a crime, has been counseled by the Long Beach Police Department to "let the fight go outside of the bank, which is what happens 99 percent of the time."
"We're truly sorry that he was injured as well as (the other customers)," Walker added.
If Camp were to change his mind about the luncheon Walker would gladly meet him and shake his hand, the bank president said.
"It isn't a personal issue for me," Walker said.