On April 26, more than six years after a 2012 shooting incident that left a young man with a serious leg injury, an Ohio jury returned a $1.25 million verdict.
Then 16-year-old Alex Napier was shot in the leg by a homemade "wad" from a shotgun owned by then 18-year-old Terry Ickes on March 2, 2012. According to Napier's attorney, this incident was the result of dangerous behavior among a group of teenage students at Lakewood High School.
"There had been multiple prior instances when these teens would shoot each other with the wads in order to leave a welt, like being shot with a paintball gun," said Napier's attorney, Scott Elliot Smith. "Alex fled Terry Ickes' home and said he did not want to be shot with the wad. He locked himself inside Ickes' truck and tried to protect himself by holding the locks down."
According to Smith, Ickes had given a 12-gauge shotgun - which he was not permitted to possess due to an unrelated legal matter - to another teen and handed the keys to the truck to a third teen, who was able to open the truck door. Napier was shot in the leg, and the wad embedded several centimeters deep inside his leg.
"Unfortunately, the injury became infected and Alex had to undergo three surgeries to repair the damage. He has a permanent scar," said Smith.
Smith filed a lawsuit on Napier's behalf seeking compensation for Napier's leg injury. In early April 2018, the jury found that Ickes' negligence caused Napier's injury and awarded $1.25 million in compensatory damages, plus $1,000 in punitive damages and attorney fees.
The jury found that Ickes was 55 percent responsible for the injury, with 35 percent responsibility apportioned to the teen who fired the shotgun and 10 percent to the teen who unlocked the truck. Because the teen who pulled the trigger had already settled his portion of the case and the teen who opened the truck had been dismissed from the lawsuit, only the 55 percent owed by Ickes - $687,500 - would be paid.
Smith stated that he hopes this verdict will send a strong message to Ohio teenagers and their families.
"Teens need to understand that when they engage in dangerous and irresponsible behavior, their actions can have serious consequences. And parents need to impress upon their children over and over again that they are not invincible and neither are their friends."