Paul Brunner and Doug Otte v. Pamela Hampson, Executor of the Estate of Jerry J. Hampson

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division

Palmer proves serious burn injuries caused by negligence of Canadian outfitter and fellow hunter.

On August 26, 2001, experienced big game bow hunters, Paul Brunner from Montana and Doug Otte from Nebraska, were two of six hunters on a musk ox expedition north of the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Canada. The camp was sponsored and managed by Canada North, an outfitter from Ottawa, Canada. The cabin in which the hunters lived was made of plywood, and had neither a fire extinguisher nor a fire ax, contrary to Canadian law. The Coleman camp stove provided by Canada North flamed fitfully each time it was used, and the storage of the cooking fuel naptha was not carefully stored in red canisters. Sometimes it was stored in containers marked “water”. One of the hunters, Jerry Hampson from Lancaster, Ohio, filled a pot with liquid from an unmarked jug and placed it on the Coleman stove to heat. Canada North’s cook adjusted the flame on the stove. Flames flared and suddenly engulfed the pot which quickly spread from the pot to other parts of the cabin. Hampson grabbed a container containing a clear liquid and dumped it on the flames. But, the liquid was naptha, which caused an explosion and turned the cabin into an inferno trapping Brunner and Otte. Both caught on fire and believed they were going to die. Fortunately, they escaped, but suffered serious and permanent injuries from the fire. The case against Canada North was brought in Ohio since it did business in Ohio. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined there was no jurisdiction, so litigation proceeded against it in Canada. The claims of Brunner and Otte against the Estate of Hampson proceeded in the United States District Court (Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division). The claims in both the United States and Canadian litigation were settled for a confidential amount.

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