Thanksgiving Special: Top Five Turkey Jury Verdicts

Posted on 11-18-2016 by
Tags: verdict litigation turkey thanksgiving

As we enter the fall season, talk often turns to holidays, holiday meals, and specifically, turkeys. A surprising number of jury verdicts in the United States are turkey-related, ranging from automobile collisions to hunting accidents. To celebrate America’s delicious and dangerous holiday bird, here are five turkey-related cases from our collection. This list includes case summaries written by Lexis editors as well as our licensing partners.

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Here are our five selections:

1)   Barbara Goss v. Brookshire Grocery Company, 2004 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 49656

Licensing partner ALM Media brought us an employee’s Thanksgiving-related negligence suit. On November 23, 2002, Barbara Goss was working at Brookshire’s Grocery Store. The store was unusually busy due to the approaching holiday and large stock carts of frozen food had been placed in the deli cooler, including a cart stacked with 500 pounds of frozen turkey dinners. While working around the carts, Goss hit her shin, grabbed a shelf to stop her fall, and twisted her back. Goss filed a negligence suit against her employer, arguing Brookshire breached its duty to provide a safe place to work. The jury agreed, finding Brookshire was 100% at fault and awarding Goss $729,300 in damages.

2)  Michael Hobbins and Terry Hobbins, as husband and wife v. Leroy A. Miller, 2013 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 608  

On May 1, 2010, Leroy A. Miller was hunting turkeys on Pennsylvania state game lands. Miller was a convicted felon who legally was not allowed to have a gun. Miller heard a noise and shot his gun, believing he was shooting at a turkey. Instead, Miller shot fellow hunter Michael Hobbins. Hobbins was blinded and suffered aneurysms following the shooting. Hobbins and his wife Terry Hobbins filed suit against Miller in the Court of Common Pleas for Union County, Pennsylvania. The Hobbinses asserted claims of negligence and also argued Miller violated Pennsylvania Code by illegally possessing and using a firearm, shooting at a human being with a firearm, and hunting without first securing a license. Following a bench trial before Judge Michael T. Hudock, judgment was entered in favor of the Hobbinses in the amount of $4,034,240, which included $2,000,000 for noneconomic damages and $1,000,000 for punitive damages.

3)  James Marston v. John Barnes, 2014 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 16926

James Marston and John Barnes were both hunting in Virginia. Marston claimed Barnes saw movement in the woods and, believing it was a turkey, fired his shotgun loaded with number four shot. Instead of a turkey, Marston shot Barnes in the torso, head, face and neck. Marston filed a negligence suit against Barnes in the Virginia Circuit Court, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Northumberland County. Judge Harry T> Taliaferro, III overruled a demurrer filed by Barnes, and the case subsequently was dismissed with prejudice on Nov. 13, 2014.

4)  Mary & Michael Reilly v. Alan Watson, 2005 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 35408

While Mary Reilly was driving her vehicle, a wild turkey flew into her windshield. Riley slowed down, put on her turn signal, and began to pull onto the shoulder of the road. Reilly’s vehicle was struck by a vehicle operated by Alan Watson. Watson claimed he braked and tried to stop to avoid the collision but was unable to do so. Reilly filed a negligence suit against Watson in the Supreme Court of New York for Rockland County. Following a trial, the jury found in favor of Watson.

5) Dianne Vitek and Edwin Vitek v. Richard Kulp and Suzanne Kulp, 2010 Jury Verdicts LEXIS

Licensing partner ALM Media brought us another turkey-related vehicular negligence case. On April 28, 2002, Dianne Vitek was stopped in traffic in Sassamansville, PA, when she was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Suzanne Kulp. Kulp claimed she was distracted by a woman who had run across the road several cars ahead to pick up a wild turkey that had just been hit by a car. Kulp was unable to stop in time to avoid the collision with Vitek’s vehicle. Vitek filed a negligence suit against Kulp, who stipulated to liability. At trial, the jury found Kulp’s negligence was not a factual cause of harm to Vitek, and Vitek was not awarded damages.

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