Gilmore v. Shell Oil Co
In Gilmore v. Shell Oil Co., 613 So. 2d 1272 (Ala. 1993) an employee at a gasoline station/convenience store kept a loaded handgun on a shelf beneath the counter in the store. The plaintiff's son, Michael Gilmore, was a friend of another employee. On the day he died, Michael had gone to the store to visit his friend. The employee who owned the handgun testified that on that day, he had inadvertently left the handgun on the shelf beneath the counter. Michael went behind the counter to make a telephone call; while there, he took the handgun from underneath the counter. His friend testified that Michael "opened the chamber of the handgun and removed all the bullets. Michael then replaced one of the bullets, closed the chamber, put the handgun to his head, and pulled the trigger." 613 So. 2d at 1274.
The shot killed Michael. The Court held that his conduct was an efficient intervening cause that negated any liability of the defendants for any negligence on their part in leaving the handgun on the shelf.
"The death of Michael Gilmore is also an unexplainable tragedy. We do not understand, nor do we attempt to rationalize, his deliberate and destructive final act. However, we recognize that such acts are not the ordinary and naturally flowing consequences of the defendants' negligent conduct in leaving the handgun under the cashier's counter where it was accessible to those persons who might find themselves behind the cashier's counter. What relieves the defendants of any liability for Michael's death is that Michael, by his own hands, acted intentionally and deliberately in a manner that was calculated to result in his own death." Id. at 1278.