The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the United States in plaintiffs’ Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) action alleging that the negligence of a Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) ranger Mr. Woychowski resulted in the death of their daughter, Kathryn Steinle.
A gun was stolen from the ranger’s parked car. Four days later, Ms. Steinle was shot and killed while walking on Pier 41 in San Francisco when Juan Francisco Lopez found the pistol and fired it. Plaintiffs alleged that the ranger was negligent in failing to store or secure his firearm properly and in leaving it loaded, in an unattended vehicle in an urban location where the firearm could be stolen readily.
The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment on the ground that the ranger’s conduct was not the proximate cause of Ms. Steinle’s death. Applying California law, the panel concluded that the connection between the ranger’s storage of the pistol in his vehicle and Ms. Steinle’s death was so remote that, as a matter of law, the ranger’s acts were not the proximate or legal cause of the fatal incident. The panel did not reach the question whether the ranger owed a duty of care to Ms. Steinle.
Full case here: STEINLE V. UNITED STATES, https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2021/08/24/20-15419.pdf
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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