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Attorney: Grandfather not responsible

By Staff | Dec 27, 2009

An attorney says his client should not be held responsible for a teen’s injuries sustained in an accidental shooting at his home in July 2008.

On Tuesday, Eugene Stallkamp’s attorney, R. Stephen Tillit, presented oral arguments before Faribault County District Court Judge Douglas Richards on why a personal civil suit should be dismissed.

Collin Jacobson, 16, of Bricelyn, was shot in the face July 22. He lost his left eye and hearing in his left ear and has accumulated $400,000 in medical bills.

Last May, Collin Jacobson’s mother, Kim Jacobson, filed a civil suit against Daniel Stallkamp and his grandfather Eugene Stallkamp, contending their carelessness, negligence and unlawful conduct contributed to her son’s injuries.

Tillit says under state law the elder Stallkamp did not have a duty to protect Jacobson or control a third party, Daniel Stallkamp, from harming him unless the two had a “special relationship.”

He says Jacobson was just an acquaintance and was trespassing on Eugene’s property at the time of the shooting.

“Mr. Stallkamp didn’t have any idea that day that Collin Jacobson or any other minor would be in his home,” says Tillit. “He never got permission to enter his property, let alone his bedroom.”

Jacobson was shot when a pistol he and Daniel Stallkamp found in his grandparents’ bedroom discharged.

Tillit says Jacobson assumed risk when he handled the pistol. He says the teen is familiar with the dangers associated with firearms.

“There’s no evidence Collin Jacobson entrusted his safety to Eugene Stallkamp,” he adds.

Because there is no custodial relationship between Eugene Stallkamp and his grandson and Daniel was an adult at the time, Tillit believes his client shouldn’t be held responsible.

Kim Jacobson’s attorney, Charles Suk, argued the Stallkamps did not have the standard grandfather-grandson relationship.

He says Eugene did not press charges when Daniel stole jewelry and a gun from his house, and the grandfather one time even paid a $2,000 fine for his grandson.

Suk says Daniel’s grandfather, in the past, gave him permission to use his guns. He says the younger Stallkamp knew the “secret hiding places” the guns were kept.

Suk says Eugene Stallkamp had a duty to store the loaded gun because his grandson was permitted to enter the home on a daily basis.

The grandfather could have spent as little as $19.99 to make sure the guns were locked up and secure, he adds.

Daniel Stallkamp worked at his grandfather’s farm while on work release, a job Suk says was arranged by Eugene.

Suk argues he is liable for employing a person with a background he knew exposed others to an unreasonable risk of harm.

He says when he went to Eugene’s property, Daniel was supposed to work from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. on machinery out on the yard.

Suk says the two went inside the house and Jacobson was shot around 4:30 p.m.

But, Tillit says while Daniel Stallkamp has had “numerous brushes” with the law, there is no evidence he has ever harmed or threatened anybody with physical harm or shown any violent behavior.

Tillit says negligent supervision isn’t an issue because the incident occurred outside the scope of Daniel’s employment. He says Daniel did not have a job that required him to have contact with the public or co-workers.

Richards took the arguments under advisement and will issue a written ruling.