Basch & Keegan represented the family of a man who tragically lost his life. Our client was raised in Ulster County and moved away after as a young adult. He was married and had a child.
Our client came home to visit his family and childhood friends. Unbeknownst to our client, one of his childhood friends was suffering from mental illness. Although he had this illness under control in the past, his medication had lapsed. Due to his mental state, his friend had moved back in with his mother.
Our client visited this friend one evening and uneventfully talked with him for approximately one hour. While our client was sitting at the kitchen table, his childhood friend became confused and believed that he was an intruder.
The friend went upstairs and retrieved an unlocked pistol, along with unlocked ammunition. The friend then went downstairs and shot our client in the head as he sat on a chair at the dining table.
The pistol was owned by the shooter’s father, who had passed away. The shooter’s mother kept the gun, but never legally transferred ownership after the father’s death. Further, the shooter’s mother left the firearm with ammunition unlocked and accessible to her mentally ill son.
This is a tragic example of why it is so important to keep firearms and ammunition secured and out of the hands of those suffering from mental illness.
Derek Spada obtained a settlement of the full policy amount from the homeowner’s insurance company based on the pistol and ammunition being negligently left unsecured. Although homeowner’s insurance companies will generally not provide coverage for intentional acts, such as criminal acts, they will afford coverage for injuries that result from negligent acts, such as leaving a firearm and ammunition unlocked.
While there is nothing that can undo this tragedy, we hope that the settlement will improve the life of our client’s wife and provide a brighter future for his child.