A court has ruled that a state’s so-called “Bring Your Guns to Work Act” doesn’t provide immunity to liability for an employer whose employee accidentally shot a man while carrying a gun.
Claude Lucas sued Beckman Coulter Inc. and BCI employee Jeremy Wilson for injuries Lucas suffered when Wilson accidentally shot Lucas with a handgun.
In 2013, Wilson was on a business-related visit to client Albany Area Primary Healthcare’s facility.
Lucas, who knew Wilson from previous visits, greeted Wilson in the parking lot. After hearing from Lucas that there had been several recent car break-ins in AAPH’s parking lot, Wilson decided to take his .40 caliber handgun inside. He was attempting to clear the gun by ejecting a chambered round when it discharged, hitting Lucas in the abdomen.
Lucas required surgery. His medical bills totaled more than $100,000.
Wilson was fired for having a gun in a company vehicle.
Lucas sued Wilson for negligence and BCI for negligent supervision.
BCI requested the lawsuit be thrown out. A trial court granted the request, and it was upheld by an appeals court.
The courts ruled that Georgia’s Business Security and Employee Privacy Act (aka Bring Your Guns to Work Act) granted immunity from liability to BCI. The Act says:
“No employer, property owner, or property owner’s agent shall be held liable in any criminal or civil action for damages resulting from or arising out of an occurrence involving the transportation, storage, possession, or use of a firearm, including, but not limited to, the theft of a firearm from an employee’s automobile, pursuant to this Code section unless such employer commits a criminal act involving the use of a firearm or unless the employer knew that the person using such firearm would commit such criminal act on the employer’s premises.”
The appeals court interpreted this to grant employers immunity from all “firearm-related tort liability” for the actions of its employees.
Lucas appealed, and the Georgia Supreme Court recently handed down a decision.
The state’s highest court said, contrary to the appeals court’s ruling, the gun law doesn’t create immunity for employers in all cases, and specifically not this case.
The law addresses privately owned vehicles parked on company property.
In this case, the car was company-owned, and it was parked at a client’s property.
The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the earlier decision and remanded the case for more proceedings.
(Lucas v. Beckman Coulter Inc., Supreme Court of Georgia, S17G0541, 3/5/18)