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Widow sues club in death of spouse

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by Joe Potosky, Oct 10, 2008.

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  1. Joe Potosky

    Joe Potosky Well-Known Member

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    Widow sues club in death of spouse

    Wrongful death charged in sport shooting incident

    By Emilie Raguso - The Modesto Bee

    The widow of a man who was shot at the Old Fishermen's Club in July has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the club, the club's landlord and the man she says killed her husband.

    Judith Herrmann of Modesto is asking for at least $25,000 in the July 13 death of her husband, William. She declined to comment for this story.

    News of Herrmann's death reverberated through the U.S. sport shooting world because strict rules on ranges mean such accidents rarely happen.

    The lawsuit identifies Vincent Giovaniello of Riverbank as the man who shot Herrmann. Authorities have declined to name the shooter, but people familiar with the club confirmed it was Giovaniello.

    He has denied the allegations.

    Also named in the lawsuit are the Old Fishermen's Club and its landlord, Mape's Ranch and Lyons Investments. The lawsuit was filed in August.

    "It was a very unfortunate, tragic incident," said landlord W.J. "Bill" Lyons Jr.

    One club member said shooting has been suspended at the club since Herrmann's death. Club president Rod C. Wyeth of Modesto did not return several calls over two weeks. The club, at 10800 Maze Blvd., about nine miles west of Modesto on the San Joaquin River, was established in 1920 and has about 800 members. All are men.

    Authorities said Herrmann met with other men to shoot skeet at the club. In skeet, which is meant partially to simulate bird hunting, participants try to shatter clay disks flung quickly into the air from different angles.

    In July, past president Phil Brugger of Modesto said Herrmann was not a club member. But one member said Herrmann was "always around."

    Club rules possibly violated

    Stanislaus County sheriff's Detective Ken Hedrick said the men were standing in an area between the skeet range and the parking lot when the shooting happened.

    "He was showing the weapon to another club member when it went off," he said.

    Though it's not a violation of state law to carry a loaded gun on private property, several people familiar with shooting ranges said it likely was a violation of club rules.

    "You don't load your gun until it's your time to shoot," said Stan Siroonian, president of the Fresno Trap and Skeet Club. "The gun has to be either broken or open, that way you know and everybody else knows it's safe."

    Hedrick said the investigation remains open, no one has been arrested and the shooting appears to be accidental.

    According to the lawsuit, Giovaniello's shot hit Herrmann in the head. The coroner's office ruled the death accidental.

    The firearm used in the shooting was a .410 bore shotgun, which uses the smallest shotgun shell commonly available. It often is used for trap, skeet or small bird hunting. It's one of the lightest shotguns and has very little recoil.

    Club members have said Giovaniello, one of several managers of the skeet range, is known as a stickler for firearm safety. He followed the skeet range rules to a T, making sure no one loaded his shotgun until he stepped up to shoot.

    Court documents filed by Judith Herrmann's attorney argue Giovaniello "was negligent in that he pointed his loaded shotgun toward people in the near vicinity and negligently touched the trigger causing the shotgun to discharge."

    Herrmann also argues in the records that the club and its landlord were negligent.

    Giovaniello declined to comment. But in court documents he filed in September, he denies the allegations, arguing Judith Herrmann's complaint does not include enough information, that William Herrmann was negligent the day of the shooting and that the events surrounding the shooting "were the result of the conduct of other defendants or other parties."

    Case given to district attorney

    The Stanislaus County district attorney's office is reviewing the case, said Carol Shipley, assistant district attorney, which it received Sept. 29 from the Sheriff's Department. She did not know when the office would decide whether to file charges and would not speculate about what the charges could be.

    Skeet shooters across the country closely followed online reports of Herrmann's death in July, said Ohio attorney Douglas A. DiPalma, a member of the National Skeet Shooting Association and a certified skeet instructor.

    "In the skeet shooting world, this got attention because there are so very, very few accidents," he said last week.

    According to news reports, in February an instructor at a Pennsylvania shooting range was fatally wounded while removing guns from an overnight storage safe. In 1997, a man at a Washington state range was killed while coaching a woman how to shoot a revolver. But such reports are rare, because sport shooters tend follow the rules and keep track of their shells.

    "I'm almost pathological, where I shoot, about safety," DiPalma said. "That's why this got our attention. We want to remind people all the time: When you're handling weapons, there's no room for mistakes. But it certainly was tragic, any way you slice it."
     
  2. dog easy

    dog easy TS Member

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    "It was likely a violation of club rules" ???????? NO SHIT.....................
     
  3. nipper

    nipper TS Member

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    I wonder why every "accidental" shooting is always ruled just that,of all the ones here locally not a single one i can remember has ever been ruled any other way and no one has ever been charged.

    Bill
     
  4. Ljutic111

    Ljutic111 TS Member

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    ???? $25,000 ???? Anyway you see this , it`s a small price to pay !!!! This shouldn`t have happened at all and yes , we who run clubs have to see that Safety is are biggest concern .
     
  5. recurvyarcher

    recurvyarcher Well-Known Member

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    IMO, $25000 isn't much. If she was dependent upon her husband, she probably needs it. I feel really sorry for her.

    I don't understand how Mr. Giovaniello could counter that Mr. Hermann was negligent. I guess you would have had to have been there.

    Stay safe, everyone...
     
  6. pendennis

    pendennis Well-Known Member

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    Usually, there has to be clear intent, or clear negligence, in order to be charged with homicide (manslaughter or murder). If there is any doubt by the local state's attorney, the shooter will not be charged.

    But there is a clear separation between the criminal and civil actions. The state's attorney may determine that there's not sufficient evidence to raise the killing to manslaughter charges. The state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil action, responsibility only has to be proven by a preponderance (50.1%) of the evidence. Remember OJ? He skipped on the murder, but got nailed in the civil trial.

    When civil suits are filed, everyone who was remotely involved (club, owners, etc.), is usually named. Some are eventually eliminated, but the deepest pockets usually are gone after by the aggrieved parties.

    Best,
    Dennis
     
  7. perazzitms

    perazzitms TS Member

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    $25K ain't shit.
    The club most likely has insurance - probably about $25K. The way insurance companies are today, she probably has to sue to get them to pay. It's sort of a dance.

    I'm familiar with an airplane accident that had to play out the same way. Airplane crashes. Man dies. Airplanes' fault. Widow wants value of insurance policy the manufacturer holds on the airplanes (about $1M). They refuse, say it's the pilots fault. She files suit, then insurance company settles out of court for $1.2M. Sometimes you just have to play the game.
     
  8. tj303

    tj303 Member

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    $25,000 divided by 800 members is $31.25 per member. Settle and pay out of court and get it out of the press. If it goes before a Kalifornia jury who knows how many millions they may award.
     
  9. JBrooks

    JBrooks TS Member

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    In California, a suit has to state it is for a minimum of $25,000 to meet certain legal thresholds. As with most newspaper reports the "journalist" is ignorant and fails to report that fact.
     
  10. sharhope

    sharhope Member

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    Dont all gun clubs have NRA liability insurance?
     
  11. halfmile

    halfmile Well-Known Member

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    No, they don't. I believe all or a large percentage of members have to be NRA members for a club to get their insurance.

    We are privately insured because of the difficulty in policing this requirement.

    HM
     
  12. BDodd

    BDodd TS Member

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    sharger - NO! Many stick with independent brokers.
     
  13. hoggy

    hoggy TS Member

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    Well I've been told it's ok to break club rules if ATA rules over ride them at ATA shoots, although I do NOT agree with it. I won't memtion which ones because I'll catch hell again.
     
  14. Ljutic111

    Ljutic111 TS Member

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    I would like to know who to contact for BOD insurance for gun clubs . We voted at our last meeting to look into this to protect all officers from any lawsuits should they happen . We do have NRA insurance to $1M but were told to get others .
     
  15. JBrooks

    JBrooks TS Member

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    What ATA rules override Club rules?
     
  16. BIGDON

    BIGDON Well-Known Member

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    ljutic: Try your local agent. You do have one don't you?? You are looking for D & O Liability.

    Every wrongful death law suit says at least $25,000, that's a minimum not the max which she and her vulture are going after. Some of you think she is automatically entitled to some cash. You are talking like a Demoidiot.

    Don
     
  17. code5coupe

    code5coupe Member

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    "The firearm used in the shooting was a .410 bore shotgun, which uses the smallest shotgun shell commonly available. It often is used for trap, skeet or small bird hunting "
    I know it's all anyone I know uses for trap. Right.
     
  18. recurvyarcher

    recurvyarcher Well-Known Member

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    Don, you wouldn't be calling anyone a "demoidiot" if it had been your spouse that had been killed.

    The loss of a spouse is a financial burden for many people, particularly for women.
     
  19. g7777777

    g7777777 TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    Lots of misinformation

    D&O insurance isnt going to do what you want- but insurance company will make money

    As far as her right of action--- This lady's husband went on a short jaunt to the club that morning- he never came home- you are an idiot if you dont think she has a cause of action against anyone related to this issue.

    When I am at a club and see a safety violation- I walk up and correct it- such as described in that parking lot-- if you dont- and belong to a club- you are part of the problem---------- it seems there were people standing around watching while this happened that said nothing

    Ex- years ago I saw a guys son holding a model 12 with the butt on the ground and his chin on the barrel- action closed- his father right there - in a group of shooters -5-6

    I said to the father- "you need to immediately have your son move the barrel of that gun- point it in a safe direction and open the action or something may happen that none of us will ever forget" Not one person in that group felt good about my comment

    regards from Iowa

    Gene
     
  20. BIGDON

    BIGDON Well-Known Member

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    Curvy; Maybe I have become harden as I see a great deal of these bereaved after the death of there loved one. If there is negligence than they are entitled to what they deserve. Negligence hasn't even been determined and you want to give her a check just because she is a woman who deserves, sorry that's not the way the system or the way Insurance co. work. What happens if the deceased was at fault, do you still give it to her because?? Need has no bearing, it will be determined by who is negligent and to what degree they are negligent. Negligence may even be shared by several.

    We all, you and me, accept some inherrent risk every time we pick up our guns and head to the range. Sorry nobody is just "entitled".

    Don
     
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