McGrane v. Cline (The "Stolen Gun" Case) 94 Wash.App. 925, 973 P.2d 1092 (1999) cert. denied 138 Wn.2d 1018, 989 P.2d 1141
Magnuson Lowell was privileged to represent a couple from Fall City, Washington. While they were away for the weekend, their 16-year-old daughter, staying at home, invited some ne'er-do-wells over to the house. It is believed that some time the following day, one of the young men returned to the home while it was empty, broke into the parents' bedroom, and stole the father's handgun from his desk, along with some of the mother's jewelry from her closet. The theft was reported to the police as soon as it was discovered. Seven weeks later, the thief used the stolen weapon in a robbery at a diner in Des Moines, Iowa. In the process, he shot and killed the diner hostess, plaintiff's decedent. Arguing to the Washington Court of Appeals in Seattle, Magnuson Lowell's Rick Lowell persuaded the judges that under these facts, the courts should not recognize a duty on the part of a firearm owner to prevent the theft of the gun from his residence by one who makes subsequent criminal use of the weapon. It is important to note that this case did not involve accidental injury to children who may have had unsupervised access to a gun. Nor did it involve facts that might have alerted a gun owner that a theft was reasonably foreseeable.