ND: Hunter suffers injuries to face, eye and hand
February 2, 2010
Thompson woman sues ammo company after hunting accident causes injury
Hunter suffers injuries to face, eye and hand
A Thompson, N.D., woman who had a rifle shell explode in her face on her
first hunting trip is suing the company that made the ammunition, claiming
that a defect in the design or production of the shell caused her injuries.
Sheri Sponsler, 46, was deer hunting near Edmore, N.D., on Nov. 11, 2007.
When she shot at a doe, the brass casing holding the powder failed and
exploded, blowing out the bottom of the gun's chamber and sending shrapnel
into her face, eye and hand, according to a court complaint filed by
"The force of the explosion threw Sheri's head back, causing severe
whiplash injury. Sheri immediately noticed that her ears were ringing
immensely," the complaint reads.
The ammunition company, Hornady Manufacturing Co., based in Grand Island,
Neb., denies any wrongdoing and has requested the case be dismissed. Hornady,
founded in 1949, sells bullets in the U.S and around the world.
Sponsler's complaint was filed in federal court in November 2009. Both
sides are scheduled to meet at a Feb. 25 hearing in Fargo.
The complaint says Sponsler's boyfriend, who, at the time of the
incident, had taught hunter safety for about eight years, bought the ammo, a
box of Hornady 60 shells, at Scheels sporting goods store in Grand Forks.
The shells were for Sponsler to use in a Remington 220 Swift hunting rifle
that her boyfriend had borrowed from an acquaintance because it was smaller
and would have less recoil, the complaint states.
Sponsler and her boyfriend shot twice at a target using the shells Nov.
10, 2007, and Sponsler took two shots Nov. 11, 2007, before the gun
backfired; on all four shots, they noticed no problems, according to the
The complaint says Sponsler suffered and continues to suffer health
problems, including ringing in her ears, sensitivity to sound, headaches, a
sensation of movement inside her head, scars on her hand and face, symptoms
of nerve damage and severe pain in her head and neck. Her eye took more than
a month to heal and required several procedures to remove the shrapnel, the
complaint states. She is seeking more than $75,000 in compensation for pain
and emotional distress, medical expenses, lost wages and legal fees.
The complaint asserts that "weak and/or bad brass was used in the design
and/or manufacture of the shell casing of the ammunition," adding that
Hornady was negligent in not making "a reasonable inspection or test to
Hornady's attorneys say Sponsler's injuries were the result of simply an
accident, the negligence of a party other than the company or misuse of the
ammunition. Sponsler "knew and appreciated the risk inherent in her
activities and voluntarily assumed the risk of injury from those
activities," the company's response says.
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