FOSTER CITY (KPIX 5) – A Bay Area man said he is struggling to pay his legal fees after a home intruder he shot filed a lawsuit against him.

Joe Balistreri could hardly believe an intruder sued him for negligent use of a handgun. “That is my biggest issue, our judicial system allows these people to have the right to try to sue,” he told KPIX 5.

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Balistreri said he was merely protecting his family. “I had no choice given the circumstances,” he said.

On March 24, 2012, his family was spending the night at his parents’ home in Foster City. At 4:15 a.m., a noise woke him up.

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“I heard the noise coming from the front door. I heard clicking, rattling of the door handle,” he recalled. “I woke up my father, told him someone’s trying to break into your house, where’s your gun?”

Balistreri said the intruder did not stop at the front door. He jumped the fence, made his way around the back of the house, through a side door and into the garage, left unlocked.

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“This guy is now in my house,” he recalled.

In the dark home, Balistreri came face-to-face with the 6’4” intruder and fired three shots.

But here’s the catch, the plaintiff said he was intoxicated and thought he was walking into his friend’s house.

“There was no knocking, there was no announcement, there was no nothing,” Balistreri said.

Months after the incident, there was a civil suit.

In the end, the judge sided with Balistreri. With mounting legal fees, he launched a GoFundMe account in hopes of once and for all paying off his debt and putting that horrific night behind him.

“This guy put a huge burden on my shoulders,” Balistreri said.

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Prosecutors didn’t file charges in the case. Since the shooting happened at Balistreri’s parents’ house, their homeowner’s insurance covered only their legal fees, not his.