Accidents can happen at just about any place and any time. Whether its driving a car, shopping at a store or seeking medical treatment, our everyday activities require us to interact with the rest of the world, which can be a dangerous place. Especially for those who engage in what Florida courts and lawmakers call “inherently dangerous” activities, like firing guns. In Flynn v. Polk County, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida explains that a private business or government entity that sponsors these types of activities may owe participants a heightened duty of care, including a duty to properly supervise them.
Gary Flynn was shot in the throat and shoulder in an accident at a gun range in Polk County when a firearm in the possession of Michael and Sherri Thourot malfunctioned and accidentally discharged. He later filed a negligence lawsuit against the Thourots and Polk County, alleging that the county was liable because it “maintained and cared for” the gun range.
Flynn further claimed that the county was negligent in its supervision of the Thourots while they were shooting at the range. The Jennings 9 millimeter that the Thourots were shooting at the time of the accident, according to Flynn, was “notorious for malfunctioning and randomly discharging bullets.” As a result, the county should have supervised their use of the weapon. The county, meanwhile, argued that the claim should be dismissed because it did not breach any duty to supervise the Thourots.
The Court sided with Flynn, rejecting the county’s motion to dismiss the claim. It explained that a government entity has the discretion to choose whether or not to operate a recreational facility and is not subject to suit based on this decision. “However, once the governmental entity decides to operate the recreational facility, it assumes the common law duty to operate the facility safely, just as a private individual is obligated under like circumstances,” the Court explained. When the entity sponsors an unusually dangerous activity at the facility, the standard of care required may elevate to a duty to supervise, according to the Court.
“Given that Florida courts have found such things as swimming pools to be unusually dangerous, a gun range could certainly qualify as such,” the Court ruled, finding that the issue of whether the county was required to supervise shooters on the range should be left to a jury. The Court found that Flynn properly plead a claim for failure to supervise and denied the county’s motion to dismiss.
If you were injured in an accident due to another person’s negligent behavior, call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Anidjar & Levine for a free consultation. Representing clients throughout the area, including in Hialeah, Pompano Beach and Coral Springs, we believe in providing each client with individualized, detailed attention. Our lawyers can speak with you about whether you might be entitled to compensation for your injury. You can reach our Florida offices at 800-747-3733 or submit an on-line form to contact us today.
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