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Pinkberry Co-Founder Sued For Allegedly Beating Homeless Man With Tire Iron

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) —  One of the co-founders of the Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain is being sued for allegedly beating a homeless man with a tire iron after seeing the man with a sexually-explicit tattoo.

The nine-page suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Young Lee by Donald Bolding, who is described in the court papers as a “homeless transient and beggar.”

Bolding, who alleges assault, battery, negligence and civil rights violations, is seeking unspecified damages.

Lee, 47, previously was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the alleged attack against Bolding last June 15 on the Vermont Avenue offramp of the Hollywood (101) Freeway.

According to Tuesday’s civil filing, Lee was stopped at a traffic light when he saw Bolding “changing into or out of a sweatshirt and his bare torso revealed a sexually explicit tattoo, which apparently angered Lee.”

Bolding “posed no danger to Mr. Lee or anyone,” the suit states. Lee, upset about the tattoo, began arguing with Boding, then parked his sport-utility vehicle, took out a tire iron and demanded that Bolding kneel and apologize, the suit alleges. “Lee then attacked (Bolding) anyway, chasing him and kicking him, and beating him down with the tire iron,” the plaintiff’s suit says.

Bolding suffered a broken arm and cuts on one arm, according to the suit.

Philip Kent Cohen, Lee’s lawyer, said previously that Bolding made threats to his client that suggested he might have a weapon. But the suit states that Bolding — who is currently serving time for a non-violent drug offense — was unarmed.

Eyewitnesses called 911 and gave authorities the license plate number of the SUV that Lee was driving, and he was later apprehended at Los Angeles International Airport, according to the suit.

Lee co-founded Pinkberry with then-wife Shelly Hwang in 2005, and he is no longer involved with the company, its partners or its more than 170 stores worldwide.

Pinkberry formally ended its ties with Lee in May 2010, according to the company.

KCAL9 and CBS2 reporter Suraya Fadel spoke with Bolding’s attorney, Gary Casselman, Wednesday night.

Casselman says, “He had a broken arm and a concussion from a tire iron — a steel rod. It’s not meant to hit someone over the head nor is your head designed to withstand the blow from an object like that…he still has headaches.”

He describes the tattoo that allegedly offended Lee as “a silhouette of a man and a woman and a sexual position standing up.”

The suit states that Lee’s conduct is “even more despicable” given the defendant’s wealth, status and lifestyle compared “to the miserable destitute plantiff, a homeless beggar.”

Casselman also said it was “preposterous” for Lee to suggest he was afraid of the plantiff because of alleged past threats. “It would not explain why he got out of his car and chased him down and why he had a tire iron in his hand.”

 (©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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