I referenced this case last month. Grandfather has .22 handgun hidden in his locked camp in N.H. Grandson (whom he has not seen in years) was released from prison, went on a multi-state crime spree, and then broke into his grandfather’s camp, stealing the gun. He then murdered three people with it during a robbery. Survivors of one of the victims sued the grandfather for negligence. One court rejected the argument that grandfather was negligent. Now, the Federal Appeals Court has also sided with grandfather.
The appeals court said the New Hampshire Supreme Court has recognized that people generally cannot be held liable for the criminal acts of third parties, except under narrow exceptions.
ââThe record here, even when construed in the light most flattering to the plaintiff, does not show Âeither a particularized risk of harm or a degree of foreseeability sufficient to animate this exception,ââ Judge Bruce Selya wrote for a three-judge panel of the court that heard the case.
âThe plaintiff (Jones), who made a deliberate choice to sue in federal court rather than in a New Hampshire state court, is not in a position to ask us to blaze a new trail that the New Hampshire courts have not invited,â reads the decision of the three-judge panel.
The judges noted previous rulings that found a âfundamental unfairnessâ of holding a private citizen responsible for the unanticipated criminal acts of another. Under normal circumstances, a person can assume that others will obey the law, the decision reads, quoting earlier rulings.
A common sense ruling.
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