The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a case against Wal-Mart for selling bullets to a person without requiring her to present an identification card as required by Illinois law. Candice Johnson later used the bullets to commit suicide. Her husband filed suit, alleging that his wife did not have an identification card in her possession and Wal-Mart’s violation of the Illinois statute requiring proof of identification was the proximate cause of her death. He also alleged that she should not have been sold a gun because she had been a mental patient within the previous five years and thus should not have been sold a weapon. The opinion does not say whether Wal-Mart knew of her prior status as a mental patient.
Wal-mart argued that the act of suicide was a superceding cause and thus it was not responsible for the death. It also argued that the violation of Illinois law was not the cause of Ms. Johnson’s death.
The appellate court accepted Wal-Mart’s arguments, saying that under Illinois law suicide is ordinarily an unforeseeable event and thus causation was not present as a matter of law.