Torts II, Pages 746–749

Miller v. Civil Constructors, Inc.

Illinois Court of Appeal, 1995

Facts:

Plaintiff was injured when a bullet hit him after ricocheting from a nearby gravel pit where some police officers were practicing with their firearms.

Procedural History:

Circuit court dismissed plaintiff's strict liability counts.

Issue:

Is firearm practice an ultrahazardous activity?

Rules:

  • LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 747, Paragraph 3

    Most jurisdictions in this country have adopted the rule of Rylands to impose strict liability on owners and users of land for harm resulting from abnormally dangerous conditions and activities.

  • LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 748, Top

    Section 520 of the Restatement sets forth several factors which we will consider in determining whether an activity is abnormally dangerous (ultrahazardous): "

    1. existence of a high degree of risk of some harm to the person, land or chattels of others;
    2. likelihood that the harm that results from it will be great;
    3. inability to eliminate the risk by the exercise of reasonable care;
    4. extent to which the activity is not a matter of common usage;
    5. inappropriateness of the activity to the place where it is carried on; and
    6. extent to which its value to the community is outweighed by its dangerous attributes."

Reasoning:

  • Reasonable care will virtually eliminate the risk of firearm use.

  • Guns are commonly used and have no inherent danger. All danger of firearms comes from the misuse of their users.

  • It is assumed that a gravel pit is a safe place to practice with firearms as it has not been alleged otherwise.

  • Law enforcement officers practicing their weapon handling skills benefits community.

Holding:

No, firearm practice is not an abnormally dangerous activity. Affirmed.

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