Ohio couple sues Division of Corrections for injuries

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 30, 2010

CHARLESTON -- An Ohio couple is suing the West Virginia Division of Corrections after he sustained injuries during transition firearm training.

Wolf Performance Ammunition was also named as a defendant in the suit.

On Sept. 30, 2009, Shannon E. Smith, who was a correctional officer at the Lakin Correctional Facility, was directed to attend transition firearm training, according to a complaint filed Nov. 8 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Smith, who lives in Syracuse Village, Ohio, claims upon arriving at the shooting range, he was assigned and provided with a Glock 21SF .45 caliber semi-automatic hand gun for the training, along with Wolf brand ammunition.

Safety tests were never performed with the Wolf brand ammunition in the hand gun prior to training, according to the suit.

Smith claims during training, many correctional officers experienced problems with the ammunition, but even after the ammunition malfunctions, he was directed to continue firing the hand gun.

Upon pulling the trigger of the hand gun, the ammunition cartridge exploded in Smith's right hand, according to the suit.

Smith claims he sustained severe and permanently disabling injuries, including second degree burns, a hyper-extended wrist and post-traumatic stress disorder. He claims he has lost significant feeling in his right hand, that it constantly trembles and that he has lost full flexion in the hand.

The West Virginia Division of Corrections violated West Virginia Code because it had actual knowledge of the existence of the unsafe working condition and of the high degree of risk, according to the suit.

Smith and his wife, Heather Smith, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Guy R. Bucci and Mark A. Barney.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 10-C-2013

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