Corino v. Gobbler's Knob Hunting Club - $3.3 Million Settlement for Deer Hunter shot by Fellow Hunter.
Deer drives are popular in Upstate New York, and a few other areas of the country, but are prohibited in many states and on most federal land. During a deer drive, hunters are divided into two groups: the sitters and the drivers. The sitters are positioned along a line and the drivers walk through the woods and literally drive the deer toward the sitters.
A safe and successful deer drive requires careful preparation and communication. Each hunter must know the location of all other hunters and be instructed regarding the direction that they can safely fire their weapons (the zone of fire). For this reason, there must be a leader or hunt master who sets up the hunt and disseminates to all hunters the necessary information.
The victim was shot during an annual Thanksgiving weekend hunt on property owned by one of the defendants. Each year the property owner would invite a group of friends, and they would be joined by members and guests of a hunting club. Each year the number of participants grew, until the hunt was attended by an unmanageably large group of hunters. On the day of the shooting, more than 21 hunters were on the property.
The defendants in the case were the shooter, the hunting club and the property owner. The liability case centered around the mismanagement of the hunt. Sitters were assigned positions without knowing that there was another hunter to their left or right. Assignments were changed as the hunters were going to their spots. And, in depositions it became clear that different sitters had a different understanding of where they were supposed to be positioned and their safe zone of fire.
The victim was shot twice by a hunter who shot outside of his zone of fire. However, he believed he was shooting in the correct zone of fire. That pointed to mismanagement of the drive. Nevertheless, he violated a cardinal rule of hunting: know your target and what is beyond it before taking a shot.
Our client was hit once in the abdomen and once the leg. The shot to his leg ruptured his femoral artery, and but for the quick thinking of a fellow hunter in applying a tourniquet he would have bled to death in the woods. He was evacuated by helicopter.
Over the next two years he underwent seven operations, including two fasciotomies and painful skin grafting. He was hospitalized twice with serious infections and developed compartment syndrome which caused permanent nerve and muscle damage to his leg. He was unable to work or support his family and suffered attendant financial and psychological distress.
Using his treating physicians as experts, and a vocational rehabilitation expert, a life care planner and an economist, we were able to demonstrate significant economic loss, future medical expenses and permanent disability, pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
The $3.3 million settlement represents the full value of the case.