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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Oregon Bar Off the Hook After Drunken Shooting

(CN) - An Oregon bar is not liable after one of its patrons took out his concealed weapon during an apparent blackout and shot people, the state's highest court ruled.

Carroll Mayfield, now 72, is serving a 10-year prison sentence after randomly opening fire on a poker club in downtown Gresham one night in January 2010.

One bullet hit a 36-year-old named Jason Chapman in the chest, putting him in the hospital for nine weeks, the Oregonian reported.

Another bullet went through 42-year-old Richard Gilbertson's arm.

The pair sued Mayfield, a self-described "homebody" who claims he has no memory of the shooting.

Though they also sued the Eagles Lodge in Gresham that had served Mayfield on the night in question, the trial court granted the bar summary judgment.

With the Court of Appeals having affirmed, the Oregon Supreme Court held a hearing at Marist High School in Eugene back in April and hammered the final nail in the case last week.

The 27-page ruling notes that, on the night of the shooting, Mayfield had gone to the lodge with his friend, Grant Baughman.

Over the course of several hours, Mayfield drank several beers and at least one shot of whiskey; he danced and had fun. The bar's employees called him "kind" and a "very nice man."

No one knew Mayfield was carrying a concealed handgun under his vest.

When Mayfield left the Eagles Lodge, he walked down the street to the Gresham Inn but was turned away for being too drunk.

Mayfield then walked across the street, pulled out his gun, and fired his revolver into the Gresham Players Club, striking Gilbertson and Chapman.

The first breathalyzer test registered Mayfield's blood-alcohol content at 0.19. He clocked in at 0.18 an hour later. Mayfield reportedly has no memory of the incident and does not know why he opened fire. A defense attorney told the court at sentencing that Mayfield has early-stage Alzheimer's.

In the civil case, Gilbertson and Chapman presented a pathologist's opinion that Brady would have been visibly drunk when he was at the Eagles Lodge.

Nevertheless, the trial court found no evidence that the shooting was foreseeable.

Affirming on Friday, the Oregon Supreme Court zeroed in on the dispositive question of whether the evidence "raised a triable issue of fact as to whether defendant's conduct created a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm to plaintiffs."

Here the court needs more evidence than the fact that Mayfield was served alcohol while he was visibly drunk, according to the ruling.

"In this case, with the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to connect Mayfield's shooting of two strangers at a different location with defendant's conduct in overserving him," Judge David Brewer wrote for the court. "Hindsight, however, is not foreseeability."

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