Frangible Ammo Manufacturer Replies to McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Eric Woods’ Suit

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog reported on the complaint filed by McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Eric Woods concerning his shooting range injury.

With the exception of a vicious dog image on the front target, this is what Eric Woods saw when he entered the firing range room.

In the suit against the frangible ammunition’s manufacturer, Pennsylvania’s International Cartridge Corporation, Woods blamed defects in the bullets for his ricochet injury.

The Sheriff’s Department was not named as a defendant by the injured employee.

This is the vicious dog target said to have been used, but it has no bullet holes. That's because the Sheriff's Department did not produce the copy used in the exercise when McHenry County Blog filed a Freedom of Information Act request for it.

In its response, ICC denied all of the allegations in Deputy Woods suit and offers the following affirmative defenses:

  • Woods was taking part in a multi-person SWAT live fire exercise at the Hartland Shooting Range.
  • After Woods entered the live fire room, he bypassed, and did not engage or shoot a reactive, steel or other form of metal target which contained the picture of a dog, instead stood near the dog reactive target.
  • Then, other members of the SWAT team entered behind Woods.  Michael Hart came last and seeing that the dog had not been shot, did so and “material then struck Woods.”
  • Department employees arranged the targets and “were responsible for monitoring and ensuring the safe live fire exercise.”
  • The motion says it is believed that “the Range Officers were not in a position to fully observe the live fire room or all the actions of participants, including Woods.”
  • Departmental employees decided where to place the targets and “the minimum lateral safety distance to maintain between participants and reactive targets.”
  • Continuing their scenario, ICC’s attorney argues Sheriff’s Department Deputies “decided to not use a failsafe line on the ground in the training room to ensure that participants did not come to a stopped position too close to reactive targets.”

As I read International Cartridge Corporations outline of the facts as it sees them, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department is responsible for any injury that Woods received.

Affirmative defenses follow.

The first argues that any damages that occurred were “caused by the negligence, wonton and willful, intentional or other culpable conduct of third parties over which this Defendant had no control, duty or right to exercise such control.”

The second argues that the causes of “Woods’ alleged damages were acts of negligence, wanton and willful, intentional and/or other culpable conduct by Plaintiff and/or other parties.”

The third argues that even if the ammunition played a role in the injury, damages should be reduced in proportion to the negligence can be attributed to Woods and others.

Finally, the ammo company’s attorney argues, and let me quote it completely:

“Plaintiff Woods assumed the risk of injury from participating in a live fire exercise and voluntarily deciding to stop at a position in close proximity to a non-engaged reactive, steel or other metal target with knowledge that other SWAT team would enter behind him and engage targets Woods, or others, had not engaged.

“Woods knew of the damages associated with standing in close proximity to a reactive target and understood and appreciated the risk he could be struck with debris when a reactive target was engaged by another SWAT team member.

“Nevertheless, Woods voluntarily chose to accept the risk and subject himself to the danger of which he now complains.”

= = = = =

What could be seen from the door to the live fire exercise room after the incident is below:

Targets that could be seen from the door of the entrance to the shooting range. Note the missing vicious dog target.

What you see below is an enlargement of a photo showing two male targets at the back of the range on the day of the exercise. Note that there are bullet holes in the paper targets.

Close-ups of two targets that could be seen from the door of the entrance to the shooting range. The Sheriff's Department could not find the threatening paper dog target used in the exercise in which Eric Woods was shot. It would presumably have similar bullet holes.

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