Kuhns v. Brugger

135 A.2d 395 (1957)

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Kuhns v. Brugger

Pennsylvania Supreme Court
135 A.2d 395 (1957)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Albert Kuhns (plaintiff) and George Brugger (defendant) were at the lakeshore cottage of their elderly grandfather, George Bach (defendant). The boys were both 12 years old. Bach owned various firearms, including a loaded pistol that he kept in an unlocked dresser drawer in his unlocked bedroom. One afternoon, the boys entered Bach’s bedroom, where Brugger’s two-year-old sister was already playing. Brugger jokingly pointed a combination shotgun and rifle at Kuhns. The boys’ great aunt instructed Brugger to put the gun away, and Brugger complied. A few minutes later, Brugger retrieved the loaded pistol from Bach’s dresser. Brugger manipulated the gun’s firing mechanism (“pulled the slide back”), a shot occurred, and Kuhns was hit in the spinal cord, leaving his lower body permanently paralyzed. It was unclear whether Brugger pointed the gun at Kuhns. Kuhns sued Brugger and Bach. The criminal code prohibited persons between the ages of 12 and 14 from using a firearm unless accompanied by an adult family member. Another statute prohibited the delivery of a firearm to minors. Negligence could be established by showing that a defendant’s conduct was criminal or that conduct fell below the applicable standard of care. A jury was instructed on relevant legal principles and found that Brugger and Bach had been negligent. The court entered judgment accordingly, and Brugger and Bach appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jones, J.)

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