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149516 - Bonnie Black v Anthony Shafer

Bonnie Black, as next friend of Jessica Bitner, a minor,
Steven A. Hicks
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Wayne – Hathaway, A.)
William Shafer, Mary Shafer, and Ian Gearhart,
Anthony Shafer,
Howard C. Treado
Courtney A. Jones


The plaintiff, as Next Friend of 16-year-old Jessica Bitner, sued Bitner’s boyfriend, Ian Gearhart, after Bitner was shot in the leg by Gearhart while they were social guests at Anthony Shafer’s grandparents’ home. The Court of Appeals held that Shafer owed Bitner a duty of care, and that a reasonable jury could determine that he breached that duty. The issues to be addressed include: (1) whether this action sounds in ordinary negligence or in premises liability; (2) the role, if any, of licensor-licensee relationships in this action; (3) the specific nature of the duty, if any, owed by defendant Shafer to Bitner, including whether the parties had a legally significant "special relationship"; (4) whether a reasonable juror could determine that a duty was breached; (5) the import of a third party’s criminal act in negligently discharging a firearm; and (6) causation generally.