Gun maker liable in shooting of boy


May 10, 2003, 07:38 AM

Gun maker liable
in shooting of boy

Jury also slaps parents, baby sitter with judgments in civil suit

Posted: May 10, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Jon Dougherty
© 2003

A California jury has found a firearms manufacturer partially liable in the accidental injury and crippling of a young boy in a unique court ruling against a gun maker.

An Alameda County jury found Bryco Arms largely responsible for the injury of Brandon Maxfield, now 16, of Willits, nine years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday.

According to the paper, Brandon was shot in the jaw April 6, 1994. He and a 12-year-old relative were being watched by a family friend who was living with them in their home temporarily.

The Chronicle reported the 12-year-old believed some adult had asked him to get the gun out. When he did, according to the defense attorney in the case, the 20-year-old baby sitter – Larry William Moreford II – took the pistol from the boy. In the process of unloading it, he shot Brandon in the jaw.

"He was trying to unload the gun," said Richard Ruggieri, Brandon's attorney. "In order to do that, he had to put it on 'fire.' The gun slipped in his hand and it went off. This was not a 'child playing with a gun' type of situation."

Ruggieri said the family was "pleased but reserved" about the $50.9 million verdict, while acknowledging it could be some time before Brandon sees any money, if ever.

The jury must first decide what part of the damages each defendant is responsible to pay, said Ruggieri. Two of the defendants in the case are Brandon's parents, as well as Moreford.

Also throwing the verdict in doubt is the probability of an appeal. Assuming Brandon wins that appeal, he will still have to collect the money from defendants, which could also be a problem because of a bill passed last month by the U.S. House of Representatives protecting gun makers from liability.

If passed into law in its current form, the bill – backed by the National Rifle Association – would eliminate almost all civil liability for gun makers, as WorldNetDaily reported earlier.

Ruggieri said the bill may not affect Brandon's case, but he admitted he was concerned about its ramifications.

"We're certainly concerned with it," Ruggieri said. "It would be a human tragedy if something like that would block something like this."

And, the defense attorney told the paper, the case isn't about attacking gun rights.

"This trial is not about the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms," he said. "This is just a case about Brandon."

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May 10, 2003, 10:27 AM
A California jury...

If the babysitter didn't know *** he was doing, he should have left it "on safety" and gotten a real adult to deal with it.

Maybe the victim's family should sue the NRA for not applying their Eddie Eagle program to "children" under the age of 21 or 23 or whatever the antis use in their stats.

Standing Wolf
May 10, 2003, 05:14 PM
That was a gross miscarriage of justice—but nothing unusual in the People's Republic of California. One hopes the verdict will be overturned on appeal.

May 10, 2003, 06:01 PM
It's possible that the "38 caliber" gun referred to in the story is the Bryco Model 38. If so, there is a recall on it for an "unsafe" condition: Safety Notice (,%20MODEL%2038) .

Nevertheless, what was the babysitter doing messing with it? And pointing at the boy while attempting to unload it. If IIRC, an earlier story I'd read said the jury found the manufacturer 10% liable, and spread the liability out over distributors, family, other. Now why would the distributor be liable? That makes no sense at all. :confused:

May 10, 2003, 06:56 PM
Well if it is the gun that has a recall on it I suppose the manufacturer MIGHT have some responsibility BUT they did put a recall on it. So doesnt that mean the owner is responsibile, not to mention pointing a loaded gun at someone is dangerous not matter what?

California is nice to visit but I am glad I dont live there!


May 11, 2003, 11:32 AM
Aikidoka, I agree with your points about responsibility. Especially the part about pointing the gun at the kid. That is just appalling. Even if no one has ever taught you the basic safety rules, wouldn't you have a little intuition that you don't point a loaded gun at some one, especially if you don't know how to handle it?

Yes, California has it's problems, but jury awards like these don't happen exclusively in California. I'm trying to convince my husband that we might want to look elsewhere for retirement, which is still quite some time off. He loves it here.

May 11, 2003, 02:13 PM
The problem is that now that cali has the right to sue gun manufacturers these kinds of jury awards could drag down the whole gun industry. In some areas you could get a jury that doesn't have a clue about how guns work or gun safety. Then you get lawyers saying the gun is defective because the firearm doesn't guard against boneheads who do stupid things like point loaded guns at people. Next thing you know the jury goes "yep it was defective". Mark

May 11, 2003, 03:40 PM
Kind of like automobiles dont prevent someone from pointing it at another person. The stupidity of some of these people is staggering.

As for the attorney saying the gun had to placed on fire to unload, hmm - it also had to be pointed at the kid and I suspect a finger on the trigger still in order for it to actually go off.

How bad was this injury anyway? 50 million for getting shot in the jaw??


4v50 Gary
May 11, 2003, 04:22 PM
I've read elsewhere that the boy is paralyzed from that shooting.

As bad as I feel for that boy, I hope that bill that prevents a mfg from being held liable for the negligent use by third parties sails through Congress and becomes legislation.

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