AUBURN — A man who was shot in the hip after cutting through the backyard of a Lewiston apartment building is suing his assailant.

James DeHart, 45, of 34 Bartlett St., filed a civil complaint Monday in Androscoggin County Superior Court against Kenneth Phipps, 57, of 17 Horton St., and three owners of the apartment building at the time of the shooting. Phipps was reportedly the property manager at the time of the shooting.

DeHart said he and a friend were taking a shortcut home one night in May 2008. They cut through the backyard of a neighbor, then through a parking lot behind Phipps’ building, court records said.

Someone yelled at them from a second-floor porch, telling them not to trespass. DeHart yelled back, telling the man to mind his own business, records show. The man on the porch suddenly charged from the building and pointed a gun at him. DeHart told police he reached into his pocket for his cell phone to call the police when he was shot.

A police officer said he heard Phipps tell a different story.

Phipps reportedly said he told the two men they couldn’t cut through the property. One of the men argued with him and told him to mind his own business. The man pulled a knife, so Phipps shot him, he said. Phipps called police to report the shooting and told the officers they could review surveillance cameras operating at the scene at the time to see what happened.

A grand jury indicted Phipps on one count of attempted murder, one count of elevated, aggravated assault and one count of aggravated assault.

Phipps pleaded guilty in January to one count of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to nine months in prison with all nine months suspended. He also was sentenced to one year on probation. The other charges were dismissed.

A prosecutor said police found a knife at the scene of the shooting the following morning, but declined to say who had possession of it at the time of the shooting.

DeHart is suing Phipps, who worked as a cook, for reasonable costs for the personal injury he inflicted on DeHart that has, and will result, in medical expenses and pain and suffering, according to the suit.

The suit also involves three other defendants. DeHart said Phipps was acting as an agent for the property owners: Carmine A. Castaldo, Christopher Castaldo and Clifford S. Miller. They failed to exercise reasonable care in retaining Phipps as a property manager, the suit said. They should have known that using Phipps as property manager “involved an unreasonable risk of harm to others,” according to the suit.

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