SB 51 looks to be a vigilante justice bill. Actually, it provides a defense in civil suits from a plaintiff who was injured while the plaintiff was committing a crime and then turns around and sues the person who caused his injury, perhaps while trying to stop the plaintiff from committing the crime. I don’t know if this kind of thing actually happens very much, if at all, but I’ve heard the stories.
Perhaps I’m reading the legislation wrong, but as written, I think I it permits me to gun down a kid while he’s throwing toilet paper into my trees. In that scenario, I would be the defendant. The kid would be the claimant who is committing a misdemeanor by vandalizing my property.
In an action based on an intentional act of a defendant [me gunning down the kid], if any part of an injury suffered by a claimant occurred while the claimant was committing a . . . misdemeanor [vandalizing my trees] and resulted from another person’s use of force or deadly force [me, shooting my gun] while the claimant was on real property [my property] . . . :
(1) the finder of fact shall presume that:
(A) the claimant’s conduct caused the injury; and
(B) the claimant, in taking the first step toward the commission of the felony or misdemeanor, knowingly and voluntarily waived the claimant’s and the claimant’s representative’s right to recover damages sustained by the claimant during the commission of the felony or misdemeanor; and
(2) the claimant’s conduct in committing the felony or misdemeanor bars any recovery by the claimant or the claimant’s representative for damages arising from any defendant’s use of force or deadly force.
Now, in my scenario, the finder of fact’s initial presumption in #1 would be rebutted. Despite the presumption, the jury would conclude that my gun rather than the act of throwing toilet paper caused the sucking chest wound. But that wouldn’t matter, because we move on to #2. Regardless of the presumption or the rebuttal, the claimant’s conduct in committing the misdemeanor bars recovery arising from any defendant’s use of deadly force. Maybe the statute is supposed to say that if the presumption in #1 holds up, then the recovery is barred by #2. But that’s not how it’s written.
Hmmm, this is legislation by Senator Nugent. Maybe it’s Senator Ted Nugent, and the Motor City Madman has decided to bring frontier justice to Indiana. It’d serve those snot-nosed kids right anyway. You mess with my trees, you get the barrel of a shotgun! Sure, the State can try me for murder, but your family won’t see a dime!