Sunday, November 10, 2013

Delaney v. Reynolds case brief

Delaney v. Reynolds case brief summary
825 N.E.2d 554 (2005)

Plaintiff girlfriend appealed the judgment of the Worcester Superior Court Department (Massachusetts), which granted summary judgment in favor of defendant boyfriend. The girlfriend had brought a negligence action alleging that the boyfriend knew that she had serious emotional and mental problems, including thoughts of suicide, but nonetheless negligently kept his loaded gun in a place readily accessible to her.


  • The boyfriend was a police officer. 
  • It was his practice to store his handgun, loaded and unlocked, in his bedroom in a duffle bag or in a bureau drawer. 
  • On a night when the girlfriend had been drinking and taking drugs, the parties fought, and the boyfriend told her to pack her belongings. 
  • While packing, she noticed the duffle bag, removed the handgun, aimed it at a window, and pulled the trigger twice. 
  • The gun did not fire. 
  • The boyfriend jumped from a sofa and ran after the girlfriend who then went into the master bedroom, put the gun beneath her chin, and pulled the trigger. 
  • The gun fired and a bullet entered her chin and existed her right check. 
  • The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the boyfriend upon the ground that the girlfriend's intervening act of shooting herself was a superseding cause of her injuries. 
  • On appeal, the girlfriend asserted that she did not believe the gun was loaded, did not intend to harm herself, and that her state of mind was a question of fact. 
  • The court agreed and held that the trial court erred in disposing of the girlfriend's claim because numerous questions of fact existed, including whether the risk of injury was foreseeable.

The court reversed the judgment.

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