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Backfire on Personal Injury


Since I’ve been at RGL Forensics, I’ve had
the opportunity to work on a lot of personal injury cases. I had such a case a few years ago, where the
plaintiff had a hobby of shooting flintlock guns and rifles, and in that hobby you have
to pack your own cartridges to fire with the 1800’s era rifles and guns. At some point along the way he purchased from
an individual – a small company – where he could make the ammo for certain guns. At one point he borrowed, my client, the defendant’s,
1800 era replica Henry Repeating Rifle. He was testing out some new ammunition, and
in the process of testing the ammunition, on about the fiftieth pull of the trigger,
the barrel exploded on his hand, causing significant damage to his hand. As a result of those injuries, he sued my
client, the manufacturer of the gun, and said that it had significantly impacted his business. He had hired a very competent expert, who
had a lot of experience in testifying, and the expert prepared a calculation of damages
for multiple millions of dollars, and I was retained to review both the claim made by
the plaintiff as well as rebut the calculations done by the opposing expert. Now from an accounting standpoint we looked
at the accounting documents and what we found was the individual that hurt his hand, within
six weeks of the accident, had purchased airline tickets, hotel, car and licensing so he could
go duck hunting with his largest client. He said that he couldn’t go out and participate
in these shooting events because of the significant injury to his hand. Well, by going through the accounting records
we had noted that he in fact belonged to a gun club and he continued to pay the dues
after the loss event. And in fact, when we went online and went
to that gun club, they happened to record the scores from the weekly or monthly events. And therefore what we did was we tracked on
a graph the plaintiff’s shooting averages before the loss event, but I would say within
six weeks he was back shooting based on these reports and in fact his shooting improved. His expert had used ammunition sales that
were based on traditional ammunition that’s sold for instance the AK-47, the Glocks, the
.38 Smith & Wessons, the .44 Magnums. At the end of the day, that’s not what this
guy sold. This guy was selling to a very small, finite
group of people who used flintlock guns and specially made cartridges for their guns. In rebutting the opposing expert, I think
that the jurors were able to quickly understand that the assumptions that were
relied upon were faulty, and therefore his calculations were also faulty.

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