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Old June 18, 2009, 05:05 AM   #1
DougO83
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Protection from Civil Suits?

Ok, my google-fu is rather weak and I did not happen across a thread that answers my question directly. In an SD scenario, even if cleared of any wrongdoing, a shooter can still be held liable in civil court. Because, of course, the BG was getting his/her life together and was a great kid who would never do the horrible things that he/she has been accused of, yada yada yada. Is there any statute that allows immunity for the shooter in this case? I have heard that some states do have a provision that basically states that the shooter who is cleared of criminal wrongdoing is shielded from civil backlash. I am specifically interested in Texas.

ETA: If you have a link to the statute, that would be great. I am coming up with a bunch of nothing useful on teh interwebz so far...


Thanks!
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Last edited by DougO83; June 18, 2009 at 05:13 AM.
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Old June 18, 2009, 05:11 AM   #2
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Castle Doctrine specifically protects you in a justified SD shooting, but that only applies under CD rules. If you are at Wal-Mart, you are not protected, for example.
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Old June 18, 2009, 05:15 AM   #3
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The best protection against civil suits.....

Is don't get caught
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Old June 18, 2009, 06:34 AM   #4
PT111
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Quote:
Castle Doctrine specifically protects you in a justified SD shooting, but that only applies under CD rules. If you are at Wal-Mart, you are not protected, for example.
In Wal-Mart you are protected under the Stand Your Ground laws or however you want to refer to them. If you shoot someone in a CD or SYG situation and are cleared by that DA and courts etc. this does not mean that the family cannot sue you. However their chances of winning are almost nil and they would have to either find a crazy lawyer or have a very unusual case to go forward with it. The CD and SYG laws say that you are immune from civil suits in such a case and it would be up to the suing party to prove that even though the DA and courts ruled in your favor that they were incorrect. Just say that the DA decided not to prosecute you for the shooting the family could then say that he was incorrect in his ruling and that he had bias against the dead person and all that kinds of stuff and they want their day in court. A ruling of a good shoot does not automatically take you off the hook.

If you were to go to trial with it and found not-guilty then you would have a very strong case even in civil court. If the family still decides to sue and the jury decides in your favor you can be awarded legal fees from the family.

Since most lawyers normally take such cases on a contingency basis depending on how much they win, seeing that it is unlikely that they will win the case they probably will require their fee up front. Seeing as how it is unlikely that the family (being non-PC here) probably have little to pay for a lawyer if he refuses to take the case on a contingency basis, it is unlikely that you will be sued. Your mileage may vary and IANAL.
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Old June 18, 2009, 09:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
However their chances of winning are almost nil and they would have to either find a crazy lawyer or have a very unusual case to go forward with it.
Their chances of getting a pretty good settlement and it not even making it to court are pretty good.

Quote:
you can be awarded legal fees from the family.
Good luck collecting those awarded fees.
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Old June 18, 2009, 12:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
In Wal-Mart you are protected under the Stand Your Ground laws or however you want to refer to them.
Okay, what is the SYG law in Texas that protects you from civil liability in a justified SD shooting?

Quote:
If you shoot someone in a CD or SYG situation and are cleared by that DA and courts etc. this does not mean that the family cannot sue you.
First, however, they have to get the shooting ruled as unjustified. If unjustified, then you are no longer protected.
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Old June 18, 2009, 12:33 PM   #7
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The Castle Doctrine will sheild you against criminal suits - legal action by the state - if the DA and courts agree the shooting meets the thresholds of the law. It will not protect you from civil lawsuits by anyone you shoot or their heirs.

Might not be the same in all states, but that's the way I understand it in Arizona and the way it was explained in the Arizona CCW course.

Last edited by JWT; June 18, 2009 at 03:51 PM.
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Old June 18, 2009, 12:45 PM   #8
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I'm not a lawyer but his is how I understand things.
There is nothing that can prevent BG or his relatives from filing a law suit. Unlike a criminal trial where there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt, in civil court there must be a preponderance of evidence to win.

Technically it is possible to be found not guilty in a criminal trial only to be held liable in a civil trial. OJ Simpson is an example of this.
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Old June 18, 2009, 01:50 PM   #9
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IANAL, but it really depends on your state's laws and whether or not they make allowances in their Castle Doctrine laws. Check YOUR state's stautes to determine the answer for yourself.
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Old June 18, 2009, 03:23 PM   #10
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As an example, here is the link for the SC law which prevents prosecution.


http://www.sled.sc.gov/ProtectionOfP...spx?MenuID=CWP

Quote:
A person who lawfully uses deadly force is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action, unless the person against whom deadly force was used is a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his official duties and he identifies himself in accordance with applicable law or the person using deadly force knows or reasonably should have known the person is a law enforcement officer.
BTW, this is not limited to your home. As a CWP holder it extends to your car or even on the street.

Last edited by madmag; June 18, 2009 at 03:30 PM.
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Old June 18, 2009, 04:12 PM   #11
Bartholomew Roberts
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The Texas law that grants civil immunity in a justified self-defense situation applies whether it occurs in the home or in public. Here is the specific law (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 83.001):

Quote:
CIVIL PRACTICE AND REMEDIES CODE
TITLE 4. LIABILITY IN TORT
CHAPTER 83. USE OF DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON
Sec. 83.001. CIVIL IMMUNITY. A defendant who uses force or deadly force that is justified under Chapter 9, Penal Code, is immune from civil liability for personal injury or death that results from the defendant's use of force or deadly force, as applicable.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 235, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
Amended by:
Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1, Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2007.
Of course, you are going to have to go to civil court anyway to determine whether the use of deadly force was justified under Chapter 9 of the Penal Code; but this would allow any suit to be dismissed at summary judgement, very early in the process. It also discourages "retribution" suits by making such cases even less attractive.
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Old June 18, 2009, 04:33 PM   #12
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Same law in Florida. If the shooting is justifiable, you cannot be sued in civil court.

Of course, as in Texas, you can still be sued. In Florida, once you win the civil verdict or the case is thrown out, the person suing you gets to pay all of your expenses incurred during the case, including pay from missing work.
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Old June 18, 2009, 04:48 PM   #13
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Either consult an attorney or learn to read your state's laws and cases.
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Old June 18, 2009, 07:32 PM   #14
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Lots of incorrect advice in this thread. Each state's laws regarding the civil liability for shooting another person (whether justified under the criminal laws of that state or not) varies, and there is no blanket advice whatsoever which can be given nor accepted. While some states do offer immunity from civil litigation in certain shooting scenarios, there are always limitations and exceptions.

Bottom line is you should expect to get sued if you are involved in a shooting - regardless of the circumstances and justifications you may have.
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Old June 18, 2009, 07:42 PM   #15
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IF you own a house and want to CCW....get an umbrella policy...about $ 125 year for a million dollars in coverage. DONE IF you shoot..you will be sued.

Remember: You shoot to stop They choose...you survived.

The use of deadly force when somebody survives means you did it wrong !

IF you must shoot...do it well. Be the survivor so YOU get to tell the only side of what happened as you HAD to defend yourself.

Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6 !

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Old June 18, 2009, 08:13 PM   #16
DougO83
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Quote:
Either consult an attorney or learn to read your state's laws and cases.

thank you to everyone who has provided advice, except this guy^. Totally useless.
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Old June 18, 2009, 08:55 PM   #17
PT111
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Be sure to read the fine print in those umbrella policies.
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Old June 18, 2009, 09:27 PM   #18
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How is that useless? Do you mean to tell me you would stake your liberty and all you own on the so-called expert advice proffered by strangers and laymen on an internet site?

That was the soundest advice posted here, in addition to Mr. Roberts' posting of the relevant Texas statute. Consult someone in your area who actually knows the law.

You might just thank the gentleman and go your way.
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Old June 18, 2009, 09:57 PM   #19
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Texas code

The OP was in Texas, and BR posted the relevant statute. In Texas if the shoot is deemed a legitimate self defense shoot, then the citizen is immune from civil damages. He might, or might not, have to actually go to civil court in response to the suit to plead the case and get it dismissed. The usual practice in Texas is to send a SD shoot to a grand jury for disposition. If no-billed, then it is very unlikely that a civil suit would see the court docket. If the DA simply decides to not file charges without submitting to a grand jury, then there is the possibility that some stupid dead guy's relatives might try their luck at the craps table that is the Texas civil courts.
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Old June 18, 2009, 10:15 PM   #20
johnwilliamson062
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Quote:
you cannot be sued in civil court.
NO. The judge SHOULD throw out the case at the first hearing or whatever, after you have spent several thousand dollars, or possibly more, preparing for that first hearing. I can sue anyone for absolutely anything in civil court. I can sue anyone in this thread for causing em distress with their posts and a judge is going to take a look at it before it is tossed.
You can show up and hope the judge tosses the case, but if he doesn't, for whatever reason, and you haven't paid an attorney, who is banking on the judge throwing the case out as the case is a loser if it goes to trial, you are screwed b/c no one worth a darn is taking the case at that point. Just the discovery documents are going to run you a tidy sum and I am pretty sure every court is going to require discovery before the judge will throw it out(I believe this is where you officially introduce the criminal outcome and point to the statute offering protection). It has been a while since I took a law class though, and it wasn't all that in depth to begin with..
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Old June 19, 2009, 05:55 AM   #21
PT111
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NO. The judge SHOULD throw out the case at the first hearing or whatever, after you have spent several thousand dollars, or possibly more, preparing for that first hearing. I can sue anyone for absolutely anything in civil court. I can sue anyone in this thread for causing em distress with their posts and a judge is going to take a look at it before it is tossed.
People tend to get the terms being sued and winning confused. As you say all it takes to sue someone is the filing fee but winning is different. It should be thrown out no later than the first hearing but there is no guarantee of that and then you are in trouble.
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Old June 19, 2009, 08:55 AM   #22
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The Oklahoma "Make My Day Law" was signed into law over 20 years ago. No person who has done a righteous shooting under this law has had a civil lawsuit successfully filed against him/her.

Matter of fact that OK law is retroactive to cover one specific case that spawned the OK "Make My Day Law".

In OK the prosecutor is not required to take take a righteous shooting case to the grand jury. The wounded perp or his family can take up a petition for a grand jury hearing but that never happens. Okies are not moved to sign petitions on behalf of folks who get shot while committing a crime.
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Old June 19, 2009, 09:30 AM   #23
Bartholomew Roberts
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Just to clarify: The way they will determine whether or not you are immune from civil suit is by going to court and starting the civil suit process. So you could still require a lawyer.

What these laws do is make it less likely that this scenario ever happens in the first place by making these cases so unattractive that few lawyers would take one.
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Old June 19, 2009, 11:01 AM   #24
PT111
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Quote:
The Oklahoma "Make My Day Law" was signed into law over 20 years ago. No person who has done a righteous shooting under this law has had a civil lawsuit successfully filed against him/her.
Have there been any attempts to file one? I would seriously doubt that there have been any successful lawsuits or even lawsuits making it past the prelims. That would be interesting to know.

Quote:
What these laws do is make it less likely that this scenario ever happens in the first place by making these cases so unattractive that few lawyers would take one
If I were a lawyer and approached about one I would have to have my fee in advance.
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Old June 19, 2009, 12:32 PM   #25
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How complete is the standard your ground coverage in general? I was thinking about if you engage in a legit self-defense shooting but go into spray and pray mode or your bullet passes through the BG and you nail a good person?

Are you protected in those situations in the states that have such laws? Should you be?
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