The parents of a Maine three-year old boy who accidentally shot himself with a loaded pistol filed a negligence suit against the owner of a Vermont home where the boy found the gun while on a visit. The boy’s family has also sued the Florida insurance agency where the homeowner worked, alleging the employer is liable because the homeowner also used her residence as an office to do work for the agency.
Gregory and Evelyn Bunce sued Rebecca Post and her family’s Florida-based family insurance agency, Post Insurance, where she is director of business operations. Post uses her residence in Vermont as an office. According to the complaint, Post kept two loaded pistols in her bedroom in unlocked cases at her bedside.
The Bunces allege that both Post and the agency are liable for their son Peter’s death because “they should have known that third parties would go to Rebecca’s home office to transact business, and that children might accompany them” and that they should have taken steps to be sure the weapons in the bedroom were secure.
The complaint further alleges that Rebecca Post kept the pistols for the benefit of the insurance agency and thus the employer shared responsibility for supervising their storage. “Post Insurance knew that Rebecca kept loaded pistols on the premises, and it had a duty to ensure that Rebecca stored her firearms in a manner that would be safe for visitors, including children,” the complaint alleges.
However, in its answer to the complaint, the insurance agency has denied the allegations including that it knew about the pistols in the house. It has also denied it had any duty to supervise or secure them.
Rebecca Post has not yet answered the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for Vermont.
The state attorney for Washington County declined to file criminal charges citing the results of a Barre police investigation, according to the Times Argus.
According to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Vermont does not have a law that imposes a penalty on anyone who fails to secure an unattended firearm and leaves it accessible to a child.
The case involves an incident one morning in June 2021, when three-year old Peter, his father Greg and his sister Ellie were visiting Post. Peter found a Glock pistol in Rebecca’s bedside table and accidentally discharged it at his head, killing himself. His father Greg was downstairs when he heard the gunshot and a thud from upstairs, which he said placed him in immediate fear for his own life. The Bunces claim they have suffered “tremendous pain from the sudden and horrific death of their young son.”
The parents seek compensatory and punitive damages under Vermont’s Wrongful Death Act and a jury trial.
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