AZ appellate decision on negligent entrustment
The Arizona Court of Appeals just ruled in Tissicino v. Peterson that a mother could be (could be--it reversed a grant of summary judgment, meaning the case can go to trial) liable for negligent entrustment of a firearm to her adult son. Core facts: son had IQ of 74, drank heavily, and had accidentally shot himself in the past. Father had given son the gun 20 yrs earlier, then took it back because his brother had taken it and used it in a crime (one may infer this was not the average family). After father went into nursing home, mother kept it hidden, then eventually gave it back to the son, who accidentally shot and killed someone while he was intoxicated, and was jailed for manslaughter.
The argument for summary judgment was that one cannot negligently entrust an item to a person who is its true owner. Court of Appeals concludes that "right to control" or control itself is enough, real "ownership" is not necessary to negligent entrustment.
On proximate cause--the usual rule is that criminal use by someone else breaks the chain of proximate cause. Court of Appeals notes that actions that break the chain must be those unforeseeable at the time, and which, looking back, appear extraordinary. If one gives a gun to a heavily-drinking person with brain damage, who has already shot himself in the past, an accident is not extraordinary. At the very least, it poses a question for the jury.