An insured of a long-time client of Miles Scully and Ken Perri, partners in the San Diego office, became involved in a lawsuit in Maine state court. Perri reached out to John Robinson, managing partner of the Maine office, who teamed up with Maine-admitted partner Nancy Kelly of the Boston office to remove the case to the United States District Court for the District of Maine.
Together with associate Kelcie Reid of the Hartford office, they briefed a novel issue in Maine concerning the scope of legal duty under the facts of the case. The case surrounded the shooting death of a 23-year-old man, who purchased a BB gun from the insured’s business, and was subsequently shot and killed by the police while wielding it immediately upon departing the store.
The lawsuit alleged negligence by the insured business in selling the non-lethal BB gun to the decedent. In response, the Gordon & Rees team challenged the scope of legal duty under Maine law on a motion to dismiss, and on an issue of first impression before the court.
After full briefing and more than two hours of oral argument, the court ruled unequivocally that no legal duty existed for the retailer of the BB gun to protect a patron from subsequent harmful acts by third parties. Specifically, the court found that the harm was not foreseeable, and declined to extend a special fiduciary relationship so as to create a legal duty. The case was dismissed.