Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Ct of Appeals for the 7th Circuit decides suicide case
The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has issued its opinion in Johnson v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. In this case Wal-Mart sold a woman firearm ammunition without asking her to produce an Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card. Selling ammunition to anyone who does not have such a card is illegal under Illinois law. The woman did not have such a card because she had been a mental patient within the previous five years. After she purchased the ammunition, she returned to her residence, loaded a revolver and shot herself in the chest. She died the next morning. Her husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart replied by filing a motion to dismiss arguing the plaintiff's allegations did not meet the element of proximate cause because the suicide was an unforeseeable event. The lower court granted the motion to dismiss and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the court finds that the decedent's conduct did operate as a superseding cause.