Gun instructor shot by mental health patient loses high court appeal

Published: Mar. 8, 2019 at 12:20 PM EST
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A former gun instructor shot in the face by a mental health patient has lost an appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court in a civil case targeting the residential care community where the woman lived.

In 2015, Veronica Lewis was charged with first-degree attempted murder after shooting Darryl Montague three times during a shooting lesson at the gun range he owned in Westford. Lewis had been a resident of Hundred Acre Homestead, a therapeutic residential community in Worcester. She had told staff there that target shooting helped her "deal with aggression."

In a 2017 civil case, Montague sued Hundred Acre for negligence, arguing that they knew Lewis had a history of mental illness, a criminal record that included an order prohibiting her from possessing firearms, and two recent criminal-assault convictions. He also argued Hundred Acre failed him -- and Vermont regulations -- by even accepting her as a patient.

The lower court dismissed the case saying Montague had failed to establish Hundred Acre had no duty to warn Montague because he was not an "identifiable victim."

saying "both theories of negligence fail because neither establishes that Hundred Acre had a cognizable legal duty to protect Montague enforceable through a private tort action."

Lewis last year was found competent to stand trial. Montague survived the shooting, but according to court documents he requires constant medical attention.

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