The Sacramento Bee -- sacbee.com -- Appeals court reinstates wrongful death suit against gun industry
Appeals court reinstates wrongful death suit against gun industry
By DAVID KRAVETS, AP Legal Affairs Writer - (Published November 20, 2003)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated a
wrongful death lawsuit against the gun industry.
The decision is expected to re-ignite U.S. Senate debate over a proposed
bill immunizing the gun industry from being sued for crimes committed with
Thirty-three states already have laws on the books exempting gun
manufacturers and distributors from such suits. The House in April passed
the bill to extend the prohibition on such suits nationwide and President
Bush has said he would sign it. Senate Democrats have threatened to
filibuster the proposal.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a
case that was tossed out in 2001 by a Los Angeles federal judge. It had
been filed against gun manufacturers and distributors whose weapons were
used by a white supremacist who wounded three children at a Jewish day
care center in Granada Hills in 1999. The assailant then shot a
Filipino-American postal worker to death as the man was working on his
Letter carrier Joseph Ileto, 39, was shot nine times Aug. 10, 1999, about
an hour after the heavily armed Buford Furrow fired more than 70 times
into the North Valley Jewish Community Center, which was packed with
children attending day-care programs. Three boys, a teenage girl and a
woman were hurt.
Furrow fled to Las Vegas where he surrendered the next day, announcing he
had intended to send a "wake-up call to America to kill Jews."
He is serving life in prison without parole.
Survivors claimed that several weapons companies produced, distributed and
sold more firearms than legal purchasers could buy. In addition, they
claimed the industry knowingly participated and facilitated an underground
illegal gun market.
Ruling 2-1, the appeals panel reinstated the case under California
negligence and wrongful death statutes against Georgia-based Glock Inc.,
China North Industries Corp., RSR Management Corp. and RSR Wholesales guns
"I believe this is the first federal court of appeals decision to sustain
a claim like this one," said Peter Nordberg, an attorney for the
Since 1998, at least 33 municipalities, counties and states have sued gun
makers, many claiming that manufacturers, through irresponsible marketing,
allowed weapons to reach criminals. None of the suits has resulted in a
manufacturer or distributor paying any damages.
Private groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People, also have sued, saying guns "led to disproportionate
numbers of injuries, deaths and other damages" among minorities. That case
was thrown out of federal court in July.
Thursday's case was dismissed before trial.
The case is Ileto v. Glock, 02-56197.
Editors: David Kravets has been covering state and federal courts for a
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Fucking 9th Circuit.
Write your congresscritters. That's what we need this law for.