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Victim of racist abuse outside Plano restaurant suing for damages

Bidisha Rudra is suing the woman who made the remarks, Esmerelda Upton, for damages, accusing her of assault, battery and emotional distress.

DALLAS — A confrontation outside a Plano restaurant went viral last month after a woman made numerous racist remarks towards a group of Indian woman, telling them to go back to their own country. 

Now, one of those women who was physically attacked and verbally abused, Bidisha Rudra, is suing the woman who made the remarks, Esmerelda Upton, for damages, accusing her of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

"I was shivering when I was driving back home from the incident," Rudra said. "If I stayed quiet and had forgotten about that incident, next day it's going to happen to my kids, my husband, my neighbors, their children. That's the moment I decided I need to speak up."

Rudra's lawyer, Veronica Moye, said it is important for people to stand up against this type of hatred and bigotry. 

"It's about more than that once incident," Moye said. "It's about a pattern of hatred and bigotry throughout the country... Anyone who engages in this kind of behavior should have the most severe possible consequences, because it must stop." 

On Aug. 25, police arrested Esmeralda Upton on misdemeanor charges of assault (bodily injury) and terroristic threats for the Aug. 24 incident.

According to the arrest affidavit, the group of women told police that Upton approached them and began yelling at them to go back to India and that "Indians are ruining this country." This is when the group of women started recording Upton, the affidavit says. 

Police said the group of women told officers Upton hit them, which she admitted to and the viral video also shows. The affidavit also says Upton continued to make racially charged comments throughout her conversation with the officer on scene. 

At one point, the suit states, Upton repeatedly threatened to shoot Rudra or one of her friends, telling them at one point "I swear to God I'll f***ing shoot your a**." 

"Defendant Esmeralda Upton has engaged in conduct that has no place in civilized society, and she should be required to pay Plaintiff Dr. Bidisha Rudra compensatory and punitive damages," the opening of the lawsuit reads. 

The suit goes onto detail that Rudra faced grave mental distress from the confrontation with Upton. 

"Contrary to Upton’s assertions, the United States of America is very much Dr. Rudra’s country," the suit states. "Although Dr. Rudra was born in India, she is a United States citizen. She obtained her Ph.D. in the United States and has resided in the United States for over 20 years, longer than she resided in India."

Rudra's friends who were with her during the incident are also all U.S. citizens, the suit adds. 

"It was deeply offensive to all for Upton to suggest the United States is not their country and they had no right to be here," the suit reads. "Moreover, Dr. Rudra and her friends feared serious bodily injury or even being shot to death, as Upton had threatened. This fear continued after Upton had left the scene, since each of the women then had to drive home alone, with no protection, even though Upton had been allowed to depart the scene. Dr. Rudra’s fear of another attack from Upton, or others, in fact continues to this day."

As a result of the incident, the suit states Rudra has suffered mental distress and psychological trauma, including high blood pressure, PTSD symptoms, loss of sleep, insecurity, anxiety and fear of another attack from Upton or someone else. 

"Dr. Rudra now feels a heightened level of anxiety for her safety and the safety of her family, even while performing ordinary activities like grocery shopping or dining out," the suit states.

The suit goes onto state that Rudra is seeking to ensure Upton is held accountable for her behavior and to send the message that racist and bigoted attacks won't be tolerated, regardless of who is the perpetrator.

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