Benjamin Shea Cotten, As Personal Representative For The Estate Of Christina Marie Cotten, Deceased, Et Al. v. Jerry Scott Wilson

Benjamin Shea Cotten, As Personal Representative For The Estate Of Christina Marie Cotten, Deceased, Et Al. v. Jerry Scott Wilson
M2016-02402-SC-R11-CV

In this wrongful death action, the plaintiff estate seeks to hold the defendant liable for negligently facilitating the decedent’s suicide. While staying alone in the defendant’s home, the adult decedent committed suicide by shooting herself with a gun that was unsecured in the defendant’s home. The decedent’s estate sued the defendant, alleging that he should have known the decedent was potentially suicidal and that he negligently facilitated the suicide by failing to secure the gun while the decedent was in his home. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, and the Court of Appeals reversed. We hold that the evidence is insufficient for a trier of fact to find that the decedent’s suicide was a reasonably foreseeable probability; consequently, the decedent’s suicide constitutes a superseding intervening event that breaks the chain of proximate causation. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeals and affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: 
Judge Michael W. Binkley
Date Filed: 
Wednesday, June 19, 2019