Shoemaker v. FunkhouserAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court dismissing this wrongful death action, holding that the Recreational Land Use Act, Va. Code 29.1-509, did not provide Defendants with immunity under the circumstances of this case.
Shawn Nicely was visiting his grandparents, Richard and Anna Funkhouser, when Gina Shoemaker was visiting her mother, Dorothy Nesselrodt, a neighbor of the Funkhousers. According to the complaint, the Funkhousers gave Nicely permission to shoot targets on their property in the direction of Nesselrodt's home. One of the bullets did penetrate the walls of Nesselrodt's house, striking and killing Shoemaker. The circuit court dismissed this case brought by the administrator and personal representative of Shoemaker, concluding that the Funkhousers did not owe Nesselrodt or her visitors a duty and that the immunity afforded to landowners under the Act foreclosed this suit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) landowners have a limited duty in tort to prevent activity on their property that could harm other persons not on the property; and (2) the Act did not immunize the Funkhousers.