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Old January 28, 2008, 12:33 PM   #1
Glenn E. Meyer
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Would you sue?

Usually our scenarios are on whether you would shoot someone and there is a nasty debate.

There are stories of a bad guy getting shot fleeing a property crime and the good guy following and shooting him. Sometimes the good guy gets in trouble. One can google quite a few incidents.

Ayoob recently had an American Handgunner column of a good guy who is shot by a clearly bad guy and survives. He chases the bad guy as the BG had his wallet and guys and 'might' go to his house. Or so he says later (no way to know).

Chasing the BG he fires quite a few rounds and nails also an innocent quite badly. Not charged for that but she sues and it is settled with insurance.

So here we go:

A good guy is robbed (not shot though). The BG runs from his store and the GG follows as he isn't letting the BG get away it with it. A gun fight ensues. The GG's gunfire happens just to injured the innocent:

1. You are an innocent and you get shot such that you are significantly injured and will have lots of expenses, disability, etc. even with your own insurance.

2. Your significant other gets nailed - kid, wife, husband, etc. whatever - same serious injury and expenses.

Do you sue or does your RKBA nucleus in your noggin say that you should NOT sue for the cause? Do you eat the costs and disability even though one could argue that the GG should not have pursued even though the BG got 'what he deserved' and it showed that we stand up to crime, etc.
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Old January 28, 2008, 12:47 PM   #2
chris in va
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That's a tough one and I can only make the call if it ever happens.

I can't comment further, only say that firearms aren't the perfect answer to self defense. My instructor pointed out you own every single bullet that leaves the barrel. They don't stop at the BG.
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Old January 28, 2008, 12:52 PM   #3
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I have to be made whole. Either by the bad guy or the good guy.
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Old January 28, 2008, 12:52 PM   #4
The Tourist
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You are responsible for every round you fire.

If you hit an innocent, you are responsible. An innocent party shouldn't have to sue you to make you do the right thing.

You're talking bullets. Would it matter if you ran them over with a truck?
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:00 PM   #5
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I've sued a few renters for unlawful detainer and I don't feel bad about that. In general though, I believe it's far too easy to sue and win for all sorts of petty crap. But in this case, I'd probably try suing both the GG and the BG. If the GG accidentally shoots me in defense of his life is one thing, but the scenario posted makes that seem unlikely.
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:03 PM   #6
TexasSeaRay
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Tough call, Glenn,

Me personally? No, I don't sue--whether it was me or my wife that were shot.

I've been shot before. Three times as a matter of fact between the service and law enforcement. I figure the fourth one will be the last one. Nobody can be that lucky.

My wife and I also have invested wisely and could cover the costs of such an incident.

If I, or her, were the good guy doing the shooting and an innocent were hit, I would offer to take care of their bills and everything related. But again, that's just me.

I've been there. I've been shot and know the recovery process, the nightmares, et al. I've also seen innocent people shot and have seen the same recovery process.

And finally, KNOWING that my wife and I would unhesitatingly help someone that either of us shot inadvertently/accidentally while in self-defense plays a significant role in our decision-making process.

Good question, good food for thought, although I suspect your overwhelming number of responses will be "Hell, yeah I'd sue!"

Lawyers are our society's modern day version of the hired gunfighter--and anyone can be a lawyer and a laywer will work for anyone.

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Old January 28, 2008, 01:14 PM   #7
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Sue the BG because the whole incident wouldn't have happened if they hadn't caused it.
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:17 PM   #8
Glenn E. Meyer
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I just thought of a nuance.

Your own insurance may not want to pay health costs if they think there is another person responsible. Even if you just wanted the other guy to pay your deductibles, your health company might want the other person to pick up the whole show.

So even with good intentions, you might (depending on coverage) be stuck with a tremendous bill, independent of any punitive damages you might want (if those could be proven).

There is also the difference between getting your reasonable costs covered and going for the 'big, get rich' settlement. Costs can be large if you look at lifetime costs. However, punitive damages - unless the GG -was totally reckless - seem excessive to ask for, IMHO.
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:18 PM   #9
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1. GG shouldn't have shot in the first place. Robbery is not a reason to shoot. Property can generally be replaced.

2. Tough call on whether to sue. I've never sued anyone, nor am I much of a lawsuit person. Having said that, I'd be inclined to say yes, sue, for reason given in number 1 above. Innocent party should be made whole, and whole thing wouldn't have happened had GG used better reason.
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
Your own insurance may not want to pay health costs if they think there is another person responsible.
Finally, a good use for lawyers--pitting them against each other.

My truck got hit once, and my personal insurance paid. I did sign papers of subrogation to allow the insurance company to recover their cost.

Now, TSR is in Texas. He gets his spurs sharpened and big ol' plug of chawin' tobacky. If he loses an ear, he can get as much as four bucks, silver.
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:26 PM   #11
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i agree. might as well ask "what if someone hit you with their car?" as a pedestrian, i was hit by a car. my adrenaline was pumping and after going over the car and landing on the other side i got up and started getting really ******. i told the lady driving she better leave quick or we might both be sorry. stupid thing to do, especially since i couldn't walk for a while after the effects of the injury set in. anyway, it woulda been nice if her insurance paid for her stupidity.

so, although i may believe the guy was in the right - which i wouldn't if he was trying to shoot someone in the back while they fled - my belief isn't strong enough to sacrifice my home and livelihood for it. and if it was a serious injury that's just what it might amount to.

lets say the bad guy stole the shooter's wallet. am i really gonna have to pay with a limp for the shooter not to have to cancel some credit cards and change the locks to his house? is it worth it to him to possibly kill or cripple me so he doesn't have to apply for a replacement driver's license? now that i think about it, the guy might be lucky if i only sue him.
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:28 PM   #12
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Don't want anything more than being made whole by the good guy if the badguy can't do so. The badguy can be responsible for the pain and suffering if they ever make any money again. In a perfect world the badguy is pushing up daisies.
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:35 PM   #13
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Of course, you're responsible for every round you fire. Why should an innocent bystander bear the burden?
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:40 PM   #14
David Armstrong
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Quote:
Do you sue or does your RKBA nucleus in your noggin say that you should NOT sue for the cause?
You bet. I support your right to defend yourself. I do not defend your right to chase BGs down the street to fulfill some macho need you have. I would be less apt to do so had you actually been defending you and yours and an errant round got out, depending on the situation.
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Old January 28, 2008, 01:57 PM   #15
Glenn E. Meyer
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Suing the BG is a nonstarter - he has no assets or insurance company. You might get a court to assign him to give you a $100 a week when he gets out of prison. So what - most of these victim compensation schemes don't get paid.

If he gets a job after prison - he might give you a free burger.

Remember health costs are tremendous.
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Old January 28, 2008, 02:08 PM   #16
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I would likely sue if insurance couldn't work it out, as with other forms of accidents, while harboring ill will toward only the bad guy.

I'd want the bad guy targeted first.

If I could get what I needed out of the bad guy, the shooter's suit wouldn't be necessary.

If I couldn't, then I'd file against the shooter, because as mentioned you're responsible for every round sent down range.
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Old January 28, 2008, 02:20 PM   #17
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This is a good post, Glenn and an interesting judgement call.

It would be one thing if the GG was chasing down the BG who fired and missed or who coldly shot a customer on the way out of a store. Lacking that, one has to look at the facts of the incident and determine if the GG's actions were negligent and reckless in causing the injury. If so, then the GG needs to pay the medical costs.

I was actually expecting one of two different questions when I started reading this thread;

- Would you, as the victim of a robbery/shooting sue the BG even if it's unlikely to gain much from him?

- If you were a bystander during a robbery and the victim's bullet struck you, would you sue the GG? (one could optionally set it up that you're hit with an FMJ after it passed thru the BG).
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Old January 28, 2008, 02:39 PM   #18
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I believe in the RKBA for self defense. I do not believe human beings have a right to use deadly force to protect or recover property. I do not believe human beings have a right to use deadly force to satisfy an urge for revenge. What this man did hurts our rights to own guns at all.

Not only would I sue the guy for negligence, I'd press for criminal charges against him.
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Old January 28, 2008, 02:46 PM   #19
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My school of thought is still that property isn't worth a life. GG shouldn't be chasing down a BG over some cash out of the register. However, according to some states (even my own) he can be well within his right. That DOESN'T give him the right to be a bad shot.

Hits me or any one of mine, I'm suing for at least medicals (he causes permanent disability, it's on like Donkey Kong). Luckily for GG it's a business so I should be able to sue said insurance. But that's not to say I won't go after him personally, cause I will if need be.

Don't feel like I should have to pay for someone else's bad shot. And to remove any Devil's Advocates out there, I fully expect to get turned inside and out if I ever shoot an innocent.
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Old January 28, 2008, 02:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
I believe in the RKBA for self defense. I do not believe human beings have a right to use deadly force to protect or recover property. I do not believe human beings have a right to use deadly force to satisfy an urge for revenge. What this man did hurts our rights to own guns at all.
I also believe in self defense. I DO believe in the right to protect my property with deadly force in certain circumstances. I DO believe that in certain circumstances one has the right to vengence. A man kills one of your own, he fully deserves to die. PERIOD. He forfeited his right to live when he took that right from one of mine. Maybe that is where we differ.

As to the OP, I think if I were disabled by the GG, or one of mine was killed by him acting illegally or negligently with his firearm, he should be responsible for his actions. We assume that responsibility when we strap on that gun. Just like we assume responsibility every time we get behind the wheel, or anything else.
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Old January 28, 2008, 03:54 PM   #21
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I sue for actual damages, but not punitive damages. The guy is responsible for his actions, and he needs to pay the hospital bills if he accidentally shoots someone. But, I don't sue for any of the punitive or "pain and suffering" damages.

Depending on where he shoots me, I might have to sue for "loss of consortium." I'm just saying...
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Old January 28, 2008, 04:19 PM   #22
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Suing the BG is a nonstarter - he has no assets or insurance company.
We have an officer working for us that's a bona fide, real life multimillionaire. Yup, a regular McMillan.... on paper that is .

He sued a BG about 20 years ago and was awarded an astronomical amount of money.

Problem.

The BG's only possessions were a welfare card and a pair of stolen Nike tennis shoes. That's why a multimillionaire drives a 14 yr. old vehicle and works two side jobs.
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Old January 28, 2008, 04:21 PM   #23
TexasSeaRay
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Quote:
I believe in the RKBA for self defense. I do not believe human beings have a right to use deadly force to protect or recover property. I do not believe human beings have a right to use deadly force to satisfy an urge for revenge. What this man did hurts our rights to own guns at all.
Here is where I philosophically and geographically disagree.

Having grown up in a rural, ranching area of Texas, no sheriff or grand jury would ever indict you for chasing down a guy who'd just stolen your horse or some cattle.

In many cases, your property is how you make your livlihood. And not everyone can afford the requisite insurance--or the costs it often takes to recover/replace property in time to not fall behind on bills/business expenses.

My property is MINE. No one else's. No one else has a right to it. The law says it is illegal to steal my property or otherwise take it without my express consent.

I lost count growing up of the number of times our neighbors, and even my own grandfather, would get in the pickup or saddle up and go hunt down some vagabond that we'd let sleep in the barn, only to find he'd stolen some tack, leather, clothes or whatever.

Nine times out of ten, the property was recovered at the point of a lever-action rifle. Sheriff was never called. No fuss was ever made and no one ever got hurt.

In today's politically correct and lawyer-laden society (which, incidentally experiences a MUCH higher crime rate than when and where I grew up), it is generally accepted that so long as you're not hurt, it's okay for scumbags to steal your property, point guns at you in the stealing of your property, and generally threated to come back and "get you" if you cause any trouble during the stealing of your property.

I do not buy that. I didn't buy that growing up. I didn't buy that as a soldier. I didn't buy that as federal agent. And I don't buy it today as a private semi-retired citizen who just wants to be left the hell alone.

And as far as vengeance, I won't do that over property. But hurt me or my wife or my dogs, and you better never stop running.

Quote:
Not only would I sue the guy for negligence, I'd press for criminal charges against him.
Best you'd get in most (sane) states would be negligence (reckless). Intent would have to be proved, and nobody "intends" to shoot an innocent bystander.

BUT . . . negligence is usually a HUGE deciding factor in the awarding of both damages and punitive damages.

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Old January 28, 2008, 04:39 PM   #24
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Punitive damages are not available for purely negligent behavior. Punitives are to punish an intentional behavior, but negligence is an unintentional lapse of care.
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Old January 28, 2008, 05:16 PM   #25
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TexasSeaRay:

unfortunately, not everyone in the usa can afford the luxury of living on a rural ranch. and laws have to be made that can be applied to all fairly, rich or poor. lets make the comparison a little more fair.

lets say i did get robbed. i followed the thief to your house (of course you weren't complicit in his actions) where he sought refuge in your living room. he left the door open in his haste and was running out the back way when i shot through the open door. your wife was sitting there in the living room nursing the baby, but i'm a pretty good shot so i'm confident i'm not gonna hit them. anyway - he stole my stuff!

for those of us that are in more densely populated areas i feel this would be a more apt comparison. when your neighbors hunted down these vagabonds, they weren't in a place where stray fire was likely to hit someone, were they?

i'm not trying to be snarky, but i'd like to ask for your thoughts on the situation in the place of the victim, who loses a loved one, rather than the goodguy retrieving his stuff.
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