An Ohio woman’s personal injuries from exploding rifle targets is sparking some debate over product liability and the dangerous nature of the product. In 2012, Jennifer Plank-Greer was standing fifty yards away from a refrigerator rigged with an explosive target as she recorded a man aiming a rifle at it with her cell phone.
When he fired, he struck the target. As it exploded, it launched a piece of shrapnel towards Plank-Greer that struck her in the forearm, nearly severing her hand. She was forced to undergo 16 surgical procedures to keep her hand, and while it remains attached to her arm, she is unable to do anything other than wiggle her thumb. As a result, she lost her job and was forced to move to Florida because of the pain to her arm caused by the winter climate.
Her personal injury attorney, speaking through the Indy Star, said “It’s a product that can potentially be very dangerous…to think that a teenager can go in and purchase this without any checks, that’s troubling. If a felon can go and purchase this without any check, that’s a problem and an issue.”
Exploding targets are a unique explosive compound made of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder. As RI product liability lawyers, we are concerned that when the two substances are combined, they can be detonated by an extremely high-velocity impact (such as a rifle bullet). The substance is not flammable, and cannot be detonated by fire or electricity.
Because the two substances are completely inert before being combined, explosive targets are not subject to the federal laws that restrict other explosive compounds. As such, these products can be purchased in New England, and could cause a RI personal injury.