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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 1/24/2006 7:20:57 PM EDT
DAYTONA BEACH -- A sale of more than a dozen luxury vehicles owned by a former gun manufacturer raised more than $600,000 Thursday.

Most of that money is expected to go to a California teenager paralyzed by one of his guns.

But one of the leading bidders was the former gun maker himself, with financial help from his mother.

Thursday's auction was part of a bankruptcy case, with the proceeds expected to repay Bruce Jennings' creditors, especially Brandon Maxfield, 19.

Maxfield was only 7 when he was shot by a .38-caliber gun that a California jury judged to be defective. Jennings and his companies were ordered to pay Maxfield $24 million from the 2003 court case.

However, the day after the verdict, Jennings filed for bankruptcy and moved into a million-dollar house at Volusia County's exclusive Spruce Creek Fly-In Community, also with his luxury possessions.

Nina LaFleur, one of Maxfield's attorneys, was satisfied that the auction took place.

"It's been a long three years waiting for this to happen," LaFleur said. "He thought he could move to Florida and hide with all his toys."

For years, Jennings had been one of the top manufacturers of the so-called "Saturday night specials" -- handguns that usually sold for less than $100. But Maxfield successfully sued him, claiming the cheap weapon was also cheaply made, and unsafe.

According to the judgment, the .38-caliber gun had a defective design, which required the safety to be undone in order to unload the weapon. That could allow the weapon to fire accidentally, which happened in Maxfield's home in 1994.

He and two other children were home with a 20-year-old baby sitter when one of the children found the loaded gun, hidden in the parents' bedroom, according to court records. The baby sitter tried to unload the weapon, but after undoing the safety, the gun fired accidentally, striking Maxfield in the chin and injuring his spine, according to court records.

The $24 million jury verdict was the largest award in a product-liability lawsuit involving a gun manufacturer, but Maxfield hasn't been able to collect because of the bankruptcy.

Jennings originally filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allowed him to keep his possessions while he came up with a plan to repay his creditors. However, with Jennings' companies closed and no repayment plan filed, the federal judge last year changed the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which requires a liquidation of major, nonexempt assets.

Jennings' 3,000-square-foot house, which has a separate 3,500-square-foot airplane hangar, is exempt from liquidation.

The auction, at a Daytona Beach hotel, attracted more than 60 people, plus bidders who participated through the Internet and on the telephone.

The first item was the most expensive: a 1930s-style airplane, a WACO Classic, which sold for $175,000. A lucky bidder got a red Ferrari Testarossa for $44,500. A custom Harley-Davidson sold for $11,000, while a Porsche was sold for $48,000.

However, Jennings got to keep a few of his possessions. He bought one of the airplanes, a 1995 Zlin, for $78,500, a Mercedes for $27,000, and his two Japanese motorcycles.
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