A Shiloh, Ohio, man injured after he used smokeless gunpowder rather than black powder in a muzzleloader rifle lost his bid to hold Sportsman’s Den legally responsible for his medical bills.
The Fifth District Court of Appeals sided with the Shelby-based sporting goods store, rather than with Horace D. and Katherine A. Cook, in a ruling issued last week.
The ruling said Horace Cook, an experienced hunter with limited experience in the use of muzzleloaders, purchased a black powder rifle, bullets, plastic tabs, primers, a sling, and smokeless gunpowder from the store Dec. 23, 2006.
Cook used the gun for the first time when he went hunting several days later, attempting unsuccessfully to fire the rifle two or three times. After he replaced a cap and tried again, it exploded, causing severe injuries.
The Cooks, along with Medical Mutual of Ohio and the Ohio Carpenters Health and Welfare Fund, sued Sportsman’s Den.
During a jury trial in Richland County Common Pleas Court, Cook said a male employee whose identity he could not remember later led him through the store, picking out a number of accessories. Cook testified the employee either picked out the smokeless gunpowder or watched him select it.
In a trial ending Oct. 26, 2010, a jury returned a unanimous verdict in the store’s favor.
In an appeal the Cooks filed in Fifth District Court, their attorney, D. Kim Murray, argued Horace Cook was a rookie when it came to muzzleloaders, and that Sportsman’s Den owed him a duty to make sure he purchased the appropriate gunpowder for that weapon.
But the three-judge appeals panel cited case law that discretionary power to grant a new trial should be limited, and granted only when a court has “clearly lost its way and created a manifest miscarriage of justice.”