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Get ready for the Uvalde gun lawsuits

We’ll see if they can get anywhere.

A teacher at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde has filed paperwork indicating she intends to sue the gun manufacturer who made the assault-style rifle the gunman used to massacre 19 children and two teachers.

Don Flanary, a lawyer representing longtime teacher Emilia Marin, filed a petition late Thursday asking a state district judge for permission to gather more information about Daniel Defense LLC in anticipation of a lawsuit. The request includes permission to depose, or interview under oath, officials from the Georgia-based company.

“Petitioner seeks to obtain the deposition testimony and evidence from Daniel Defense to investigate potential claims by the Petitioner,” the filing states. “The subject matter of the potential claim is the conduct of Daniel Defense which was a cause of the injuries and damages suffered by Emilia Marin.”

The teacher was in Robb Elementary that morning, but because the paperwork is preliminary and not an actual lawsuit, it offers no detail as to what harm or injury she suffered.

The petition seeks information regarding the AR-15 variant rifle sold to Uvalde gunman Salvador Ramos — as well as information about four AR-15-style rifles found in the hotel room of a mass shooter who killed 60 people in Las Vegas in 2017. It also seeks information about how Daniel Defense markets its firearms.

[…]

San Antonio lawyer Mikal Watts told the Express-News this week he and other attorneys contacted by victims’ families were investigating potential claims against the gunmaker. Marin’s petition appears to be the first of a likely wave of filings.

Lawyers say there’s precedent for such potential lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

In February, the families of nine victims of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., agreed to a $73 million settlement with Remington, the maker of the AR-15-style Bushmaster rifle used in the massacre. It was believed to be the largest payout by a gunmaker in a mass shooting case.

The settlement was notable because the plaintiffs’ legal team devised a way around a 2005 federal law that shields gun companies from civil liability. They did so by arguing that Remington violated Connecticut state consumer law by marketing the weapon to unstable young men.

This is a state lawsuit, though given how radical SCOTUS has gotten the potential plaintiffs here may have a better chance of success. I’d love to see a whole bunch of them stick it to the gun makers, but best to keep one’s expectations in check. And via the Trib, we see a second suit begin to take shape as well.

Lawyers for the family of a 10-year-old victim of a Uvalde gunman have requested marketing material from the Georgia-based manufacturer behind the AR-15-style assault rifle used to kill 21 people at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School.

The legal team, which is representing relatives of Amerie Jo Garza, hasn’t filed a lawsuit. But one of its members won a $73 million settlement for nine families of victims in the Sandy Hook shooting after pioneering a legal theory that the marketing of the gun used in that shooting violated fair-trade laws in Connecticut.

In a joint letter, the lawyers asked officials with Daniel Defense, the gun manufacturer, to preserve evidence including marketing plans, social media campaigns and advertising. The letter was sent by Mikal Watts of San Antonio, Charla Aldous of Dallas and Josh Koskoff of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They represent Alfred Garza III and Kimberly Garcia, the parents of Amerie Jo.

“My purpose for being now is to honor Amerie Jo’s memory,” Alfred Garza said in a statement released by the law firms. “She would want to me to do everything I can so this will never happen again to any other child. I have to fight her fight.”

In their letter to Daniel Defense, the lawyers ask that records, including the company’s online purchasing database and their communications with the 18-year-old Uvalde shooter, be preserved. The gunman purchased a DDM4 rifle, which is classified as an AR-15-style weapon.

“If they really are sincere in their desire to support these families, they will provide the information that Mr. Garza has requested without delay or excuse,” Koskoff said in a statement.

[…]

The federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act shields gun manufacturers from liability in a mass shooting. However, there are exemptions, which is how Koskoff and his team successfully won a settlement without the case going to trial in the Sandy Hook case.

One of those exemptions to the 2005 law occurs if a state law is violated, according to Dru Stevenson, the Wayne Fischer research professor at South Texas College of Law, who specializes in firearm policy and regulation. In the Sandy Hook case, Koskoff argued that the marketing of the gun violated fair-trade laws in Connecticut.

Whether the same exception could be used in a potential lawsuit by the Uvalde families is not clear.

“It’s going to be a new question for the Texas Supreme Court,” Stevenson said, “to see if this type of marketing violates unfair trade practices law here.”

Like I said, keep your expectations in check, but boy do I want to see all of these plaintiffs succeed.

On the subject of the manufacturer, this recent episode of the What Next podcast took a closer look at them and their very culture war-style marketing; here’s a transcript if you don’t want to listen. I favor all of the usual things we’ve been talking about here – raising the age to purchase a gun to 21, enhanced background checks, red flag laws, reinstating the assault weapons ban, etc etc etc – but requiring gun owners to carry insurance and removing that federal liability shield should be high on the priority list as well. Daily Kos has more.

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  1. […] here for the background. My best guess is that Daniel Defense will do as little as possible to actually […]