A great debate is going on in our country right now. There are those who say that tort lawyers should be turned loose on the gun manufacturing and gun sales industry. Others say “no” and have received protection for gun manufacturers and, in some states, users as well. In Pennsylvania, outside of the manufacturing context, the debate goes on.
An interesting case in that argument over tort liability for injuries and damages from gun use is Rogers v. Thomas, 2021 Pa. Super. LEXIS 291 (May 11, 2021) (McLaughlin, J.) Lloyd Thomas shot and killed Joshua Rogers and Gilberto Alvarez (collectively, decedents) in February 2012, while they were on property belonging to Lloyd’s father, Haydn Thomas (Haydn). Lloyd was charged criminally and a jury found him guilty in January 2014 of voluntary manslaughter. The administrators of the decedents’ estates—i.e., the Rogers Estate and the Alvarez Estate (collectively, appellants)—brought civil suits against Lloyd, Hadyn and a gun shop on Haydn’s property, the Outdoorsman, Inc. (collectively, appellees). Although the suits were initially in different counties, they were coordinated in Susquehanna County, and the Susquehanna County court consolidated them. At trial, the court entered a directed verdict in favor of Hadyn, and after the jury rendered a defense verdict, it entered judgment in favor of Lloyd and the Outdoorsman. This appeal followed.