(CN) - A Kentucky man who took a bullet in the leg on another man's property can pursue an assault claim, the state appeals court ruled.
Todd Hawes and Tim Martin, employees of subcontractor Shea Moore, were looking to get paid for a construction job when they saw Moore's truck at the home of builder Glenn LaPointe. They entered the house, hearing what they thought was a power saw.
Instead, they surprised LaPointe's wife, who was running the hair dryer. She told them that her husband and Moore were at the grocery store.
Hawes and Martin left, but came back just as Moore and LaPointe were returning from the store. Hawes pulled his truck into the driveway, blocking LaPointe's car.
Moore paid the workers, but LaPointe went inside to retrieve a shotgun. He fired shots into the pavement, some of which ricocheted and hit Hawes in the leg. LaPointe fired one more shot into Hawes' truck as Hawes fled the scene.
LaPointe faced criminal and civil trials for alleged assault. The trial court dismissed the criminal indictment, finding that LaPointe was "in reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or bodily harm" under a Kentucky law that wasn't in effect at the time.
Hawes' civil claim was dismissed for the same reason.
The state appeals court ruled that the law was not retroactive, so the claim can't be dismissed.
"We find no evidence in this record to support a finding that LaPointe held a 'reasonable fear of imminent peril or bodily harm' when he returned to his property and found Hawes and Martin on his driveway," Dixon wrote.