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Blinded coach sues hunter

Posted On Behalf of Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers on May 15, 2012 in Slip & Fall

LEWISBURG — Michael Hobbins, a former assistant football coach in Mifflinburg who was blinded by an errant gunshot while turkey hunting in May, and his wife, Terry, have filed a lawsuit in Union County against the man who injured him.
The Hobbins, of New Berlin, are seeking compensation for injuries, lost earnings and pain and suffering from Leroy Miller, of Mifflinburg, who is now in Montour County Jail. The amount they are seeking will exceed $50,000, said Scott Cooper, the Hobbins’ attorney and a partner with Schmidt Kramer PC in Harrisburg. Cooper said the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, is a last-resort attempt to get insurance information from Miller, which Cooper said the couple has sought since the incident. Since the case began, four letters were sent through regular mail from Schmidt Kramer, asking Miller to provide the homeowners insurance information. They got no response, said Tiffany Rezendes, a paralegal working with Cooper. A certified letter was returned marked “rejected by recipient,” she said. Rezendes said the letters were sent to Leroy Miller in care of Allen Miller at 740 Smith Road in Mifflinburg. She said the law firm wasn’t aware at first of Leroy Miller’s incarceration. “Each letter asked that they provide with homeowners insurance information or urged them to contact insurance company directly and have it contact (the law firm) if they weren’t sure what to do,” Rezendes said. “A lot of people don’t realize that homeowners insurance covers negligence for you or any relative off the premises,” Cooper said. The shooting “was reckless but not intentional, so an insurance policy would cover you as long as it wasn’t a motor vehicle accident or an exclusion.” Cooper said it’s typical to work through the insurance company on the compensation, but if the party at fault doesn’t want to cooperate, then a lawsuit is the next avenue to pursue the information. On the complaint document, the Smith Road address is listed as that of Leroy Miller. Naomi Miller, mother of Leroy Miller, said that she and her husband, Allen, own and live in the home at that address. She said her son “doesn’t have anything.” “He has no homeowners insurance,” she added. She said she and her husband have homeowners insurance on the Smith Road property, but that Leroy Miller is not covered under that policy. Naomi Miller also said the Hobbins’ lawyer hasn’t contacted her and wasn’t aware if he contacted her husband regarding homeowners insurance. Leroy Miller was charged in June with illegal possession of a firearm at the time of the shooting. He was on probation when he shot Michael Hobbins in the chest and face while turkey hunting in Limestone Township. The incident left Hobbins blind, suffering from ocular and brain trauma and extensive scarring, the complaint document stated. He has incurred numerous expenses as a result and likely will continue to have them in the future. The lawsuit also names Terry Hobbins as a plaintiff, seeking damages as her husband’s injuries have cost her a “loss of society, companionship and services.” The lawsuit alleges that Miller knew, or should have known, that he violated his probation by having and using a firearm and doing so without a license. Miller’s “egregious behavior and outrageous conduct” directly resulted in injuries to Michael Hobbins, for which he and his wife both suffer, according to the document. Cooper said he has advised the Hobbins not to speak with the media. “It’s an unfortunate situation,” Cooper said. “Miller is in prison, and we can’t get the information from anyone else. One thing the Hobbins didn’t want to do was to file a lawsuit. … No one who knows what’s going on can say they didn’t try to resolve this before” it got to the point of a lawsuit, he said.