Assault victim awarded $2 million in civil case

2005 incident led to 13 surgeries, more than $380,000 in medical bills

Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009

A former Juneau resident who underwent 13 surgeries after having his jaw broken and face smashed in a 2005 assault won a $2 million civil case last week for his injuries.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins on Friday ordered Brett Van Alen to pay for injuries he inflicted on Robert Corbisier by pushing him to the ground at a party and repeatedly stomping on his head. Corbisier has had 13 surgeries and accrued more than $380,000 in medical bills, according to his lawyer Mark Choate.

Van Alen pleaded guilty to felony assault in 2005 and was sentenced to 3 years in prison and 5 years probation. He is already being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center for violating parole by failing a drug test.

"The monetary award in this civil case is only one measure of the injuries my client received as a result of Mr. Van Alen's assault," Choate said in a statement. "It may take years or even decades to collect on this judgment, but I hope we have sent a message to Mr. Van Alen and others like him that when they act criminally, they face not only the risk of prison but also may be held accountable in a civil court for the injuries they have caused their victims."

Van Alen, then-19, was arrested for assault after a scuffle at a party on March 12, 2005. Corbisier, then-28, was escorting Van Alen from a house for making crank phone calls when they began wrestling, according to court documents. Van Alen stood up and started kicking Corbisier in the head, breaking his jaw and causing multiple fractures to the left side of his face, according to documents.

Van Alen, representing himself in the June civil trial, said that Corbisier had yelled at him for having the television volume too high before Corbisier grabbed him by the arm as Van Alen was walking out the door.

Van Alen, who was underage and drinking at the party, said Corbisier - the older and larger man of the two - verbally threatened him before wrestling him to the ground, according to court documents.

Police responded to a 911 call and found Corbisier lying on a couch in a semiconscious condition. Corbisier's pulse was low when he arrived at the hospital and he was told he almost died, he said during the civil trial.

His condition has improved over the years but Corbisier said during the civil trial that the vision in his left eye is always going to be blurry as a result of the attack. He also sustained extensive damage to his tear duct that results in constant infections, according to court documents.

The assault affected his quality of life and Corbisier said he is no longer able to ski or play hockey at the same level as before.

The assault also altered Corbisier's desired career path, he said during the civil trial. He had planned to enter private practice as a lawyer with a focus on natural resources. Corbisier works as an assistant district attorney in Anchorage and said during the civil trial that he expects to stay in that position at least two more years because of the state insurance benefits.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneaempire.com.



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