A jury has returned a verdict in the amount of $1.4 million for our client, a young woman shot by a stray bullet on private property in rural Madison County. The case, which lasted five days, was tried by Hornsby, Watson, Hornsby, & Heyward trial attorneys Ralph Hornsby, Jr., and Barnes Heyward.
The young mother was shot near Hazel Green, Alabama on Sunday, April 1, 2018. It was Easter Sunday. That afternoon, the Plaintiff and her two young sons visited the rural property of a family friend to celebrate Easter with family and friends. The afternoon activities took place on the back half of the property, where the property owner kept an RV, grills, and picnic tables lining fishing ponds for guests to enjoy. The Plaintiff and her boys, friends, and family enjoyed their afternoon riding four-wheelers, dirtbikes, and hunting Easter eggs. The group dispersed the campground and gathered at the property owner’s home along Elkwood Section Road as the day wore on. Our client and her two boys then returned to the campground to search for one of her son’s personal items. While searching for her son’s device, and with both boys within arm’s reach, she heard a loud gunshot, simultaneous to a sharp pain in her left leg. Our client had been shot.
Meanwhile, close by on a neighboring property, the four Defendants were having a gathering of their own. In addition to lighting a bonfire, the Defendants were shooting two high-powered rifles, an AR-15 and an MP5 .22 LR. The Defendants admitted to firing between 40-80 rounds. As a target, the Defendants set up a cardboard box without any adequate backstop. During the Madison County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation of the shooting, the four Defendants admitted drinking beer and firing their rifles in the direction of the young mother and her children. Both guns were confiscated.
She sustained a gunshot wound to her lower-left leg, complicated by damage to her peroneal nerve resulting in drop-foot, or the inability to raise the foot toward the knee. Although she recovered well, she will live with neuropathic pain for the rest of her life.
After the close of evidence, the jury deliberated for less than three hours, returning a verdict against all four Defendants, jointly and severally, for the negligent handling and use of a firearm which resulted in the injuries to the Plaintiff. All $1.4 million were assessed as compensatory damages.
Attorney Barnes Heyward said, “Gun ownership is a right of all citizens. We’re glad that it is. But that doesn’t mean it can be exercised without due care for our fellow neighbor. The jury who heard this case spoke that message with courage and strength.”