LOGAN — The case between a Paradise hunting guide and the Boy Scouts of America is moving closer to a jury trial after a mediator was unable to resolve the lawsuit. Craig Bingham filed the personal injury case in 2016, claiming he was blinded in the left eye by birdshot during a 2014 hunting trip with some scouts.
Attorneys for all of the parties participated in a virtual status hearing in 1st District Court Wednesday morning, appearing by web conference. Bingham is suing for damages, claiming the scout group failed to exercise reasonable care in the handling of their firearms and hunt in a safe manner.
In March 2014, Bingham was working as a hunting guide for Sportsman’s Paradise. He was standing on a small hill, behind the group when a number of pheasants were flushed from cover. As the birds took off, the hunters began firing their shotguns in different directions. He was struck by three pellets, in the left eye, hand and thigh.
During a prior hearing, defense attorneys said what happened to Bingham was a terrible accident, but there was no evidence of who fired the shot that hit the plaintiff. They claimed the defendant, who was supposed to be the professional guide, did not follow all of the rules, including wearing safety glasses. He also gave very little safety instructions to the scouts and put himself in a position to possibly be harmed.
The nine hunters were from a Boy Scout Crew in Huntsville.
A 10-day jury trial in June was postponed due to changes in the court and safety precautions. Earlier in the year, the presiding judge, Thomas Willmore retired and the confirmation of his replacement was delayed. Also, in-person hearings were postponed last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Bingham’s attorney, Michael Banks told the court he and the other attorneys had attempted unsuccessfully to resolve the case through a mediator. He explained the only solution left was for a jury to be presented with all of the evidence and determine who was responsible for his client’s injuries.
Attorney Michael Skolnick, who represents the adult volunteers, agreed with Bingham. He said they had exhausted all negotiations working out an agreement.
Judge Spencer Walsh, who was recently assigned the case, explained that the court was still unable to schedule jury trials due to the coronavirus. He also warned that once in-person hearings are able to resume, a number of criminal cases involving incarcerated suspects will be given precedence.
Walsh asked the attorneys to appear again for a status hearing March 24. He expressed hope that he will then likely have more information about when the two-week trial can be scheduled.