Victims of Highland Park Shooting Sue Gun Maker and Retailers

Author: Yuvi September 30, 2022

Victims of Highland Park Shooting Sue Gun Maker and Retailers

Survivors and families of victims of the Fourth of July shooting in Highland Park, Ill., have filed lawsuits against Smith & Wesson, citing its marketing of the semiautomatic rife used in the attack. The plaintiffs also sued two gun stores, the accused gunman and his father.

As mass shootings have become a painfully common occurrence and most federal gun control efforts have failed, suing gun manufacturers over their marketing is a novel legal tactic that plaintiffs have begun using as a way around a federal law protecting gun companies from litigation.

Seven people were killed and more than 30 people were injured, ranging in age from 8 to 85, in the Highland Park shooting, which took place during a parade in the city, about 25 miles north of downtown Chicago.

Robert E. Crimo III, who was 21 at the time, was indicted in July on 21 counts of first-degree murder, or three counts for each fatality, and multiple counts of attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, according to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The lawsuits were announced on Wednesday by representatives of three of the people who were killed, as well as several others who were wounded or traumatized. The suits also name Bud’s Gun Shop, Red Dot Arms, Mr. Crimo and his father, Robert Crimo Jr., as defendants.

The suits were filed Tuesday in the Circuit Court of the 19th Judicial Circuit in Lake County, and are seeking a jury trial.

Gunmakers are protected from being held liable for mass shootings by a federal shield law, the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. But families of those killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting argued that marketing of the weapon by Remington, the gunmaker, violated a state consumer protection law. In February, Remington agreed to pay $73 million to families of nine Sandy Hook shooting victims over the AR-15-style rifle used in the 2012 massacre, believed to be the largest such settlement by a gun manufacturer.

The Highland Park lawsuits are employing a similar tactic to those used in the Remington case. The filings allege that Mr. Crimo, using a Smith & Wesson, “was able to act out his violent fantasy — like so many disturbed and hate-filled young men before him.” They argue that the shooting played out in an entirely foreseeable way, “with extreme and limitless power,” just as the gun manufacturer had advertised.

Smith & Wesson’s marketing of the semiautomatic rifle, they add, misleadingly implied a link between its military and police line of rifles and the US military, especially to appeal to individuals like Mr. Crime.

The suits also argue that two gun stores — Bud’s Gun Shop and Red Dot Arms — negligently and illegally sold the murder weapon to Mr. Crime in violation of an assault weapons ban in Highwood and Highland Park, Ill.

According to the complaints, Mr. Crimo’s father also acted negligently by sponsoring his son’s firearm application when he was just 19, and shortly after he had attempted suicide and had threatened to kill everyone in his house.

Suing the parent of an alleged gunman is another rare legal tactic that the Highland Park plaintiffs are using. In a criminal case, an Oakland County, Mich., prosecutor filed involuntary manslaughter charges in December against the parents of the suspect in last year’s shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit.

“The July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park wasn’t just an act of one troubled young man,” Alla Lefkowitz, the senior director of affirmative litigation at Everytown Law, one of the firms representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement released Wednesday.

She added, “He used a gun that was deceptively and unfairly marketed to him by Smith & Wesson, illegally sold to him by Bud’s Gun Shop and Red Dot Arms, and negligently put in his hands by his father.”

Smith & Wesson and Bud’s Gun Shop did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday. A representative from Red Dot Arms, reached by phone Thursday, said the company had no comment on the suits.

Lorena Rebollar Sedano, who was shot in the attack, said in a statement that her life was irrevocably changed by the Fourth of July attack.

“Because of the marketing and advertising of these kinds of weapons, our lives will not be the same,” Ms. Sedan added. “That is why we demand justice so that this person pays and all those responsible pay for what they did.”

30 September, 2022, 4:18 am

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