Family Of Boy Killed In Gun Accident Sue Boy Scouts
The Boy Scouts of America and a codefendant admit only that an 11-year-old boy was shot and killed on their grounds. They have asked the court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them by the family of the same boy. The parents contend that the Boy Scouts of America are liable for the death as it happened on their grounds and they operate a shooting range in the area. While they admit to operating the grounds, they claim the incident was beyond their ability to control.
However, the allegations are not good. The camp operated a shooting range with human-shaped targets. Weapons at the camp were screened and 23 of them were illegally owned. The boy was sitting in a chair when a bullet from an AK-47 struck him in the back of the head. In this case, an unsupervised child picked up a loaded weapon without the safety on and then placed it back down. The weapon discharged resulting in the death of another child.
In most states, it would be a chargeable offense to leave a loaded weapon unsupervised around children. However, individuals are much more difficult to sue than organizations. Organizations have money and insurance policies. Individuals can simply be driven into bankruptcy. Hence, why the family has not filed a lawsuit against the owner of the gun. It probably is not worth the effort.
Are the premises operators liable?
Oh yeah. If you operate a gun range around children, then there is a duty of care to ensure that stray bullets aren’t hitting your guests. Denying responsibility for this doesn’t seem terribly inviting for families. Essentially, they are arguing they have absolutely no duty of care to ensure that children are safe from stray bullets at a gun range. Gun ranges tend to have security. They tend to want to avoid the presence of children. So, multiple failures happened here that the plaintiffs can say are actionable.
The failure of security to stop a dangerous condition from occurring would fall under the litmus of a negligent security lawsuit. In this case, the gun range has an expanded duty of care. The failure of that care resulted in death. The premises owner is thus liable.
Attorneys representing defendants will always try to dismiss the lawsuit because it forces the court to render a decision and costs more effort and time. That doesn’t mean that their efforts are based in law or in fact. The court will likely deny the motion unless sovereign immunity plays a role and the case will move forward to settlement talks. Now that the defense knows they can’t get the case dismissed on grounds of summary judgment, it will give the plaintiffs more leverage in their efforts to negotiate a settlement. The defendants know that the case isn’t just going to go away. So, the plaintiffs are more likely to leverage a larger settlement from the defendants. The nearer the case gets to trial, the more likely it is that the case will settle.
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