Montana Fire Department Sues Target Manufacturer To Recover Wildland Fire Costs

Seven Montana residents along with a volunteer fire department have filed suit against the manufacturer of explosive targets to recover damages sustained in a wildland fire in 2019. The Vaughn Volunteer Fire Department, Mark Person, Robert Doran, Shelly Vernon, Robert Vernon, Terrance Buchanan, Scott Tinklenberg, and Gary Gunderson filed suit naming Tannerite Sports, LLC and Daniel J. Tanner as defendants.

The suit alleges that on September 2, 2019, three men were shooting at targets manufactured by Tannerite when the exploding targets ignited nearby brush. The targets bore the name “Tannerite Brand Binary Exploding Targets.”

The fire north of Great Falls burned some 16,000 acres of “mixed agricultural crops, pastures, fencing, a residence, multiple out buildings, and damaging property belonging to Plaintiffs.” The plaintiff fire department incurred expenses associated with suppressing the fire. More on the fire.

The suit alleges that under Montana law, a manufacturer or seller of explosives is strictly liable for any harm caused by their products. The suit also alleges that Tannerite mislead consumers about the ability of the exploding targets to start a fire, failed to warn consumers, and breached its warranty. Besides actual damages, the plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages.

Here is a copy of the complaint.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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