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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 6/17/2003 9:24:51 AM EDT
[b]Gun seller wants teacher's widow to pay legal fees in failed lawsuit[/b] http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-pgrunow170jun17,0,1913535.story?coll=sfla-news-palm Gun seller wants teacher's widow to pay legal fees in failed lawsuit By Peter Franceschina Staff Writer Posted June 17 2003 Attorneys for the gun distributor that was exonerated in a civil trial for selling the handgun used to kill Lake Worth Middle School teacher Barry Grunow are now seeking to collect what could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs from his widow. An attorney for Pam Grunow called the move an attempt to intimidate her into dropping an appeal of the case, which has not yet been filed. Pam Grunow sued Sunrise-based Valor Corp., alleging the gun distributor was negligent for selling the .25-caliber Raven Arms pistol without better safety features such as an internal locking mechanism. The suit also alleged the stolen pistol was a defective product -- a "junk gun" that is cheap, easily concealed, favored by youths and mostly used for crime. After a six-week trial that ended in November, a Palm Beach County jury reached a compromise verdict. The jurors placed the vast majority of the blame -- 95 percent -- on the gun owner for not locking it up and the Palm Beach County School Board for not having better security. Neither the gun owner nor the School Board was a defendant in the case. Student Nathaniel Brazill, who shot Barry Grunow on the last day of classes in May 2000, also was not a defendant in the civil trial. He is serving a 28-year prison sentence for second-degree murder. Although jurors awarded $24 million in damages to Pam Grunow and her two children, they found Valor liable for only 5 percent of that -- $1.2 million. While Pam Grunow's attorneys asked Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga to impose the entire $24 million damage award against Valor, the gun distributor's attorneys persuaded the judge the jury's verdict was legally inconsistent. Labarga threw out the award, calling the verdict "fatally inconsistent" in that jurors decided the gun was not defective but Valor should have provided better safety measures on it. Now, Valor's attorneys are asking Labarga to award them fees and costs in the hotly litigated case, which was filed in October 2000. The court documents take up dozens of files in the courthouse, and Valor often had half a dozen attorneys working on its behalf, including New York City attorney John Renzulli, who specializes in defending the gun industry throughout the country. Renzulli, who was the only Valor Corp. attorney who could be reached late Monday, said he doesn't know what the company's defense cost. "We spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars defending this case," said Renzulli, who is not directly handling the request for fees and costs. "I don't know what the bottom line is." One of Pam Grunow's attorneys, Rebecca Larson, said she filed a response Monday opposing the request. Labarga has scheduled a brief hearing to address the issue in late July, but it is unlikely anything will be decided at that time. "You have an entire industry trying to intimidate a widow and her children," Larson said. "I think they are concerned about the appeal." Larson said Pam Grunow can't be held personally liable for Valor's legal costs because she filed the suit as the personal representative of her husband's estate. Larson said there is no money in the estate, and she has not been able to get a figure from Valor on what it is seeking. Although Pam Grunow received $575,000 in settlements from the gun owner's insurance company and the pawn shop that sold the gun, Larson said that money isn't part of the estate. "It is a legal nullity, because there are no assets in the estate, and the only way they can collect anything is through the estate," she said. Peter Franceschina can be reached at pfranceschina @sun-sentinel.com or 561-832-2894.
Link Posted: 6/17/2003 9:34:04 AM EDT
Link Posted: 6/17/2003 9:38:26 AM EDT
Good for them! Ram it right back down their friggin' throats! Hopefully they can sue all the anti groups that helped her, too!
Link Posted: 6/17/2003 10:52:57 AM EDT
Wish more of this would happen.
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