Hunting accident leads to award of $154,000 by jury

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Marshall County jury on Tuesday awarded a Lewisburg family nearly $154,000 in damages arising from a hunting accident almost two years ago when a Williamson County man accidentally shot the father of the local family.

Bobby Gerald Riley Jr. of Lee Lane was hunting turkey with his son, Hunter, 14, on April 8, 2007 when James Orr of Nolensville was also turkey hunting on adjacent property, according to the complaint filed in Circuit Court by the Rileys' attorney, Walter Bussart.

Judge Lee Russell presided over the trial. John P. Cauley of Nashville represented Orr.

When filed on Sept. 12, 2007, the complaint sought $550,000, but an amended complaint raised the damage claim to $1.2 million.

Orr was hunting on property he leased, according to the complaint that also raised allegations about whether Orr entered Riley's land and the legality of his hunting practice that day. Orr denied those points.

Ultimately, the only question for the jury was the amount of the award.

Orr had shot his 12-gauge shotgun with No. 4 shot and hit Riley in his fingers, thigh, temple, right eye socket, left forearm and left chest, court records show. He was treated at Marshall Medical Center's Emergency Room.

Subsequent treatment was required and he remains disfigured, the complaint states.

Negligence is alleged as Riley says Orr failed to identify a turkey before shooting. Orr denies negligence.

Compensation was sought for medical bills, loss of earnings, pain and anguish suffered by Riley. His son was traumatized by seeing his father get shot, according to the complaint. Meanwhile, Riley's wife was also adversely affected by her husband's injuries.

The jury awarded Riley $149,405, mostly for pain, suffering and inability to enjoy life during a period of time after the shooting. His wife's compensation was $35,000. The son was awarded $1,000.