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Kidnapper Sues Hostages for Breaching 'Contract' to Hide Him

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on November 30, 2011 5:53 AM

A convicted kidnapper is suing his former hostages, saying they breached an "oral contract" to hide him from police in exchange for money.

Jesse Dimmick, 25, of Aurora, Colo., is serving an 11-year sentence for kidnapping newlyweds Jared and Lindsay Rowley in 2009, when Dimmick was a fugitive, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

Dimmick was wanted for questioning in a man's beating death in Colorado. He led police on a chase, then took the Rowleys hostage at knifepoint in their Topeka, Kan., home.

The Rowleys gained Dimmick's trust by sharing cheesy snacks and soft drinks with him while the trio watched the movie Patch Adams, the Capital-Journal reports. Dimmick soon fell asleep, and the Rowleys used the intermission to make a break for it. When police arrested Dimmick, an officer's rifle accidentally went off; Dimmick was shot in the back.

Now Dimmick is suing the city of Topeka for medical expenses related to the accidental police shooting. He is also suing the Rowleys for breaking an alleged oral contract: Dimmick says his kidnapped hostages agreed to hide him from police in exchange for an unspecified amount of money.

"As a result of the plaintiffs breech (sic) of contract, I, the defendant suffered a gunshot to my back, which almost killed me," Dimmick wrote in his lawsuit. "The hospital bills alone are in excess of $160,000, which I have no way to pay."

Dimmick wants $235,000 from the Rowleys, who want the suit dismissed. They claim they never accepted Dimmick's offer.

A contract requires an offer and acceptance, along with definite (not to mention legal) terms, to be valid. An oral contract can be enforceable, unless it's for a type of deal that requires a written contract, such as property sales.

In Dimmick's case, even if an oral contract did exist, it would likely not be enforceable. That's because a party cannot be under duress when agreeing to a contract's terms. Since Dimmick took the Rowleys hostage at knifepoint, a duress argument will be a bit of a sure thing.

A final note: the convicted kidnapper's suit against his hostages is actually a countersuit. The Rowleys are seeking $75,000 from Dimmick for causing them emotional distress.

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