$3.3M Settlement for Deer Hunter Shot by Fellow Hunter
- Partner Noah Kushlefsy obtained a maximum settlement for a man shot during an annual Thanksgiving weekend hunt.
- In depositions, it became clear the hunting participants were not given clear direction on where they were supposed to be positioned and their safe zone of fire.
- Our medical and economic experts demonstrated significant economic loss, future medical expenses, permanent disability and loss of enjoyment of life.
Corino v. Gobbler’s Knob Hunting Club - $3.3 Million Settlement for Deer Hunter shot by Fellow Hunter
New York partner Noah Kushlefsky obtained a maximum settlement for a man who was shot and seriously injured while participating in a deer hunt using the drive method. Corino v. Gobbler’s Knob Hunting Club demonstrates the diversity of our practice and our ability to serve the interests of our clients.
The liability issues in the case centered on hunting safety and proper hunting procedures for different types of hunts. Having never hunted himself, Noah began by speaking with experts and immersing himself in hunter education course materials so he could effectively represent our client.
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 the limitations on where they can fire their weapons (the zone of fire). For this reason, there must be a 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 invited a group of friends, and would be joined by members and guests of the Gobbler’s Knob Hunt Club. The number of participating hunters grew every year until the hunt was attended by what we claimed was an unmanageably large group of hunters. On the day of the shooting, more than 22 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 drive hunt. Some participants were assigned positions without knowing that there was another hunter to their left or right. Some assignments were changed as the hunters were going to their spots. And, in depositions, it became clear that different participants had a different understanding of proper positioning and the correct zone of fire.
Our client was shot twice, once in the abdomen and once in the leg, by a hunter firing outside of his zone of fire. However, the shooter believed he was shooting in the correct zone, pointing to mismanagement of the drive. Nevertheless, the shooter had also violated a cardinal rule of hunting: identify your target and know what is beyond it before taking the shot.
The shot to our client’s leg ruptured his femoral artery. Only the quick thinking of a fellow hunter who applied a tourniquet saved him from bleeding to death in the woods. He was evacuated by helicopter.
Over the next two years our client 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, as well as a vocational rehabilitation expert, a life care planner and an economist, we were able to demonstrate significant economic loss, future medical expenses, permanent disability, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
The $3.3 million settlement represents the full value of the case.