Court: Shooting Victim Can Sue Gun Maker, Distributor
Saturday, 06 Oct 2012 12:01 AM
A Buffalo man who was shot nearly a decade ago can sue the manufacturer, the distributor and the dealer of the semi-automatic pistol used to shoot him, a New York state appeals court ruled on Friday.
Attorneys for Daniel Williams, who was shot in 2003 when he was in high school, argued that Ohio-based manufacturer Beemiller and the distributor, MKS Supply, violated federal law by knowingly supplying guns to irresponsible dealers. Nearly impossible to prove that anyone did anything "Knowingly." How would a Manufacturer or a distributor "know" a dealer was irresponsible? What is the standard of responsibility by which a dealer would be judged (in the absence of criminal behavior?) Does Ford have an obligation to ensure their dealers don't sell to drivers who drink too much?
The defendants said they cannot be sued because of the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 law that shields firearm manufacturers and sellers from liability for harm caused by the criminal misuse of their non-defective products.
A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, on Friday reversed a 2011 ruling that threw out the case against the defendants ó Beemiller, MKS Supply and gun dealer Charles Brown, who sold the guns to James Bostic, a Buffalo resident accused of running a trafficking scheme that funneled guns into the black market in New York.
The decision reinstates the case.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which is representing Williams, claims Bostic is a convicted felon and is barred from purchasing guns, according to the ruling.
The center said Bostic traveled to Ohio, which does not require a license to buy a gun, to procure a large numbers of handguns, including the pistol used to shoot Williams, the ruling said.
"Although the complaint does not specify the statutes allegedly violated, it sufficiently alleges facts supporting a finding that defendants knowingly violated federal gun laws,"
Justice Erin Peradotto wrote for the court.
Seriously? The complaint doesn't name any laws that were allegedly broken? The complaint can allege anything it wants. The truth is another matter entirely. I'm no lawyer, but wouldn't a complaint need to at least list a few statutes that were allegedly broken for the complaint to be taken seriously? "I'm suing because I know someone somewhere broke a law and I was injured because of it. I'm sure of it, goshdarnit!" The standards are higher on Judge Judy.
Jeffrey Malsch, a lawyer for MKS, said he is reviewing the decision.
"We believe (the lower court's ruling) was a courageous and legally correct decision, but the Fourth Department was unwilling to follow his well reasoned opinion," he said. "Whether we appeal or not, we are confident that ultimately the facts will contradict the baseless allegations in the complaint and the case will be dismissed."
Attorneys for Williams and the remaining defendants did not immediately return requests for comment.
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