Bacon was planning on hunting deer so he went to get his gun.
On his way back into the ranch, he stumbled and his rifle discharged. The bullet hit P in the head and killed her.
Bacon was bankrupt, so P sued the owner of the ranch because the ranch stairs were unstable and cluttered by debris and that this was the cause of the discharge.
Bacon testified that he has no idea what made him trip or stumble. He assumes that he was just clumsy.
Trial court found for D.
MT Supreme Court affirmed, found for D.
Is speculation into the cause in fact of an injury sufficient to state a claim?
Mere speculation into the cause in fact of an injury is insufficient to state a claim in negligence.
A party's conduct is a cause in fact of an event if the event would not have occurred but for that conduct; the D's conduct is not a cause in fact of the event if the event would have occurred without it.
The most that could be inferred in this situation was that Bacon was about to ascend the stairs when he stumbled. Why he stumbled would still require speculation.
P has offered no substantial evidence that any condition on the property caused Bacon to stumble and fall immediately before the rifle discharged. Thus, the cause in fact cannot be proven.