A Wisconsin state appeals court ruled a teen who shot his best friend in the eye during a paintball game is not liable for his injury suffered in Polk County in 2008. The judge dismissed the claims against the teen last month.
According to court documents, Thirteen-year-old Alex Freese, a 14-year-old teen, along with six other members of their baseball team spent the day playing paintball in the woods owned by Jacob Stelter’s parents in July 2008. The only adult around during the game was Stelter’s 20-year-old brother, Kyle Stelter.
Stelter apparently discussed how no one should remove their helmets at any time throughout the game and was keeping an eye on the game from the house.
A time-out was called during the game, where the 14-year-old removed his helmet. During that time, Freese, unaware that a time-out had been called, shot the other teen in the eye from about 45 feet away. The 14-year-old suffered a detached retina and his eyesight is still affected in the eye that was hit.
The injured teen filed a lawsuit alleging Freese was negligent and reckless as well as accusing the Stelter family of negligence since Stetler helped set up the game, but was not present when the injury occurred. The circuit court handed a summary judgment and dismissed the claims.
The appeals court judge agreed with the lower court and said Freese could not be held liable because under Wisconsin law, participants in team sports are only liable for injuries in team contact sports if they injure someone on purpose or because they were reckless.
Stelter’s liability has not been decided at this point.
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