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Volpe v. Gallagher

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by

Maegan O'Connor

on 2 March 2015

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Transcript of Volpe v. Gallagher

Volpe v. Gallagher
Are the Plaintiff(s) looking for compensation in the form of money from the defendant?
No they are not.
How old was James Gallagher when he committed the criminal act?
He was 34 years old.
Did Mrs. Gallagher periodically inspect her son's room for guns or any other weapons?
What were Mrs. Gallagher's arguments as to why she should not be responsible for the actions of her son? Be specific.
Verdict
Background Info
On July 3, 1994, 34 year-old James Gallagher, who was not formally diagnosed with mental illness, murdered Ronald Volpe by shooting him 3 times with a shot gun in the head and body while he was trimming his hedges between their two houses
Gallagher confessed to his mother, the landowner, that he had shot Volpe; she thought he was hallucinating, but was worried about the sound of "fireworks" so she called her two daughters
James was charged with first degree murder, eventually dropped his insanity defense, and nolo contendere to a charge of second-degree murder
Plaintiffs brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Mrs. Gallagher
Plaintiffs said Mrs. Gallagher created an unreasonable risk of bodily harm to others by allowing her mentally ill son to possess guns, ammunition, and other paraphernalia.
The defendant claims she would never allow guns in her house if she knew.
Plaintiff
Raymond Volpe and Joyce Almonte
Defendant
Mrs. Sara Gallagher
Did a medical physician ever diagnose James Gallagher regarding his mental illness?
He was never diagnosed formally.
Laws (Duties) Involved
Landowner's duty of care for criminal acts of third persons- There is no duty to protect another from intentional criminal acts of third parties on his/her property or the public way

The exception?- They do have a duty to prevent third persons that they permit to use their property from intentionally harming others, where the landowner has the ability to control the third person and knows (or should know) of the need to exercise such control

Landowner's duty to inspect property- A possessor of land has a duty to inspect the premises for dangerous conditions
Did Mrs. Gallagher, as the owner of the property, have a duty to her neighbors to keep her premises safe from dangerous conditions, in this case, her son harboring weapons? Explain.
Yes because there was a third person that was using her property and she must exercise control to insure that the third person does not intentionally harm or create unreasonable risk of bodily harm to others.
What is the relationship between Mrs. Gallagher and James Gallagher?
What symptoms of mental illness did James Gallagher suffer from?
What crime(s), if any, was James Gallagher charged with, and how were those criminal charges ultimately decided?
Did Mrs. Gallagher have a right, as the owner of the property, to inspect her son's room for weapons, even though he was an adult at the time of the incident?
Sara Gallagher is James' mother.
He suffered from hallucinations, imaginary conversations, and paranoia.
He was charged with first degree murder so he dropped his insanity defense and pled
Nolo Contendere; he was reduced to second degree murder with the plea.
No she did not.
Yes she had a landowner's duty to inspect the property.
She was afraid of guns and would never want them in her house; if she knew he had them, they would've gotten rid of them. She did not know they were there and James had not had a history of violence. She said that she could not have foreseen the events of the murder.
Did the defendant, Mrs. Gallagher, as the owner of the property, know that James Andrew Gallagher had weapons in his room?
No she did not.
Should Mrs. Gallagher, as the owner of the property, have known that her son had dangerous weapons in his room?
Yes, she should have.
Did Mrs Gallagher know that her son, James, was a dangerous person? Explain.
No because he did not have a history of violence.
Did Mrs Gallagher breach her duty of care to her neighbors by failing to inspect the premises for dangerous conditions, i.e., guns in her son's room? Explain.
Yes because her duty is to inspect her property and there was an exception to her duty of care for criminal acts of third persons.
Could Mrs. Gallagher control her son's actions where she could demand he remove the guns from his room? Explain.
Did the fact that James Gallagher harbored weapons in his room create an unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm to the Volpes/ Almontes? Explain.
Yes because it was in her house and it was her duty to inspect her property; she also gave a statement saying if she would've known, she would've gotten rid of the guns.
Yes because a mentally ill man should not be in possession of deadly weapons.
I believe that the plaintiffs lost the case because there is not enough information binding Mrs. Gallagher, the defendant. She could not have foreseen James going out of his bedroom and shooting the neighbor.
Full transcript