Judge Dismisses NAACP Lawsuit Against Gun Makers


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tobeat1
July 21, 2003, 11:09 AM
Judge Dismisses NAACP Lawsuit Against Gun Makers


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,92489,00.html



Monday, July 21, 2003

NEW YORK — A federal judge dismissed the NAACP's case against handgun makers (search) Monday, ruling that the group showed gun retailers were careless but failed to prove that its members were uniquely harmed.





The NAACP (search) proved its members "did suffer relatively more harm from the nuisance created by the defendants through illegal availability of guns in New York," U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein wrote in a 175-page decision.

"It failed, however, to show that its harm was different in kind from that suffered by other persons in New York," Weinstein added.

Despite ruling against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the judge found that its lawyers had established "clear and convincing evidence" that gun retailers are guilty of "careless practices."

Manufacturers take too few measures, he wrote, "to eliminate or even appreciably reduce the public nuisance they individually and collectively have created." Among the "obvious steps," he said, would be requiring retailers to ban multiple sales to the same customers.

A gun industry spokesman, Lawrence Keane, said he had not seen the ruling, but welcomed the outcome.

"It's regrettable that the industry ever had to defend itself against such a frivolous lawsuit," said Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (search). He estimated that the manufacturers spent $10 million on their defense.

Calls to the NAACP and its lawyers were not immediately returned.

Weinstein's decision follows a trial that concluded in May with an advisory jury clearing 45 gun manufacturers and distributors of negligence.

The NAACP sued Smith & Wesson (search), Glock (search) and other major gun makers in 1999, claiming they knew corrupt dealers were supplying products to criminals in black and Hispanic neighborhoods and did nothing to stop it. Rather than monetary damages, the NAACP sought injunctions that would place sweeping restrictions on buyers and sellers of handguns.

The plaintiffs built much of their case on previously sealed data -- provided by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms under court order -- detailing sales histories of weapons recovered at crime scenes in New York state from 1996 to 2000.

An expert witness for the NAACP testified that an analysis found 11 percent of handguns sold in 1996 were used in rapes, robberies, assaults and murders by 2000.

The defendants argued it was unfair and unlawful to hold them liable for the criminal use of a legal product. They also said legislatures -- not courts -- should set standards for gun sales.

Since 1998, more than two dozen cities, counties and states have sued gun makers, many claiming the manufacturers allowed weapons to reach criminals because of irresponsible marketing.

Many suits have been dismissed or dropped, but Congress is considering legislation backed by the White House and the NRA to protect gun makers and sellers from lawsuits arising from the criminal or unlawful use of their products.

If you enjoyed reading about "Judge Dismisses NAACP Lawsuit Against Gun Makers" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Boats
July 21, 2003, 12:06 PM
Just heard on the radio. Details later.

UnknownSailor
July 21, 2003, 12:10 PM
Foxnews has this story: link (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,92489,00.html)

Bruce H
July 21, 2003, 12:15 PM
The judges "careless practices" comment could be applied to the United States juditiary as well.

LawDog
July 21, 2003, 12:24 PM
Duplicate threads merged.

LawDog

Cliff
July 21, 2003, 12:39 PM
Good news for the industry regardless of the judge's asinine,narrowminded,and obviously anti-gun,anti-SA views.

echo3mike
July 21, 2003, 02:07 PM
NAACP Suit Against Gun Makers Dismissed

Jul 21, 10:37 AM (ET)

By TOM HAYS

NEW YORK (AP) - A federal judge dismissed the NAACP's case against handgun makers Monday, ruling that the group showed gun retailers were careless but failed to prove that its members were uniquely harmed.

The NAACP proved its members "did suffer relatively more harm from the nuisance created by the defendants through illegal availability of guns in New York," U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein wrote in a 175-page decision.

"It failed, however, to show that its harm was different in kind from that suffered by other persons in New York," Weinstein added.

Despite ruling against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the judge found that its lawyers had established "clear and convincing evidence" that gun retailers are guilty of "careless practices."


Manufacturers take too few measures, he wrote, "to eliminate or even appreciably reduce the public nuisance they individually and collectively have created." Among the "obvious steps," he said, would be requiring retailers to ban multiple sales to the same customers.

A gun industry spokesman, Lawrence Keane, said he had not seen the ruling, but welcomed the outcome.

"It's regrettable that the industry ever had to defend itself against such a frivolous lawsuit," said Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. He estimated that the manufacturers spent $10 million on their defense.

Calls to the NAACP and its lawyers were not immediately returned.

Weinstein's decision follows a trial that concluded in May with an advisory jury clearing 45 gun manufacturers and distributors of negligence.

The NAACP sued Smith & Wesson, Glock and other major gun makers in 1999, claiming they knew corrupt dealers were supplying products to criminals in black and Hispanic neighborhoods and did nothing to stop it. Rather than monetary damages, the NAACP sought injunctions that would place sweeping restrictions on buyers and sellers of handguns.

The plaintiffs built much of their case on previously sealed data - provided by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms under court order - detailing sales histories of weapons recovered at crime scenes in New York state from 1996 to 2000.

An expert witness for the NAACP testified that an analysis found 11 percent of handguns sold in 1996 were used in rapes, robberies, assaults and murders by 2000.

The defendants argued it was unfair and unlawful to hold them liable for the criminal use of a legal product. They also said legislatures - not courts - should set standards for gun sales.

Since 1998, more than two dozen cities, counties and states have sued gun makers, many claiming the manufacturers allowed weapons to reach criminals because of irresponsible marketing.

Many suits have been dismissed or dropped, but Congress is considering legislation backed by the White House and the NRA to protect gun makers and sellers from lawsuits arising from the criminal or unlawful use of their products.

---

David Park
July 21, 2003, 05:55 PM
Remember that this judge was basically hand-picked by the NAACP because they knew he would be favorable to their position. The judge was also willing to ignore the findings of the jury when issuing his ruling. Given all that, I think it shows how weak the NAACP's case really was, since the most the judge felt he could do without risking his reputation was dismiss the case on a made-up technicality, while still trying to direct some blame towards the gun manufacturers.

That said, as a public relations stunt, it was probably partially successful. I agree with this quote from the article: "It's regrettable that the industry ever had to defend itself against such a frivolous lawsuit." We need to pass S. 659! Write your senator!

Brett Bellmore
July 21, 2003, 07:42 PM
Geeze, I've been paging through the ruling, and the judge isn't just arrogant, he's also incredibly (189 pages) long winded. Mind, when you're that wrong, it takes one heck of a lot of hand waving to pretend otherwise.

His ruling boils down to, "The NAACP regrettably can't win this lawsuit, because the evil gun industry hurts EVERYBODY, not just blacks." Seriously.

Incidentally, the ruling shows one of the hallmarks of a judge who know's he's wrong: Listing lots of court cases that he says back him up, but never attempting to explain why they support him. Not even remotely like the Emerson ruling in that respect.

El Tejon
July 21, 2003, 11:03 PM
But will the gunmakers move for sanctions against the assault lawyers?:confused:

Mr. James
July 21, 2003, 11:23 PM
A gun industry spokesman, Lawrence Keane, said he had not seen the ruling, but welcomed the outcome.

Whistling past the graveyard. Brett Bellmore is right on spot: the summary of the legal reasoning, "yes, those no-good stinking filthy gun dealers are guilty as heck, but no, you haven't shown only blacks were disproportionately injured..." Guess what's next?

Is this not a bad decision? For the bad guys it's strike one - they still have at least two more cuts.

:banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

nextjoe
July 21, 2003, 11:44 PM
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030721/ap_on_re_us/naacp_gun_lawsuit_5

Overall I guess it's good news, but this part really burned me:

In dismissing the case, Weinstein found the NAACP established "clear and convincing evidence" that many manufacturers tolerate "careless practices" among retailers.

Manufacturers take too few measures, he wrote, "to eliminate or even appreciably reduce the public nuisance they individually and collectively have created." Among the "obvious steps" would be requiring retailers to stop selling multiple guns to the same customer, he said.

:cuss: :barf:

Best,
Joe

Standing Wolf
July 21, 2003, 11:45 PM
"It's regrettable that the industry ever had to defend itself against such a frivolous lawsuit," said Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (search). He estimated that the manufacturers spent $10 million on their defense.

That was the point, the whole point, and nothing but the point: bankrupting the smaller firearms manufacturers, and forcing the rest to increase prices to accommodate their legal expenses. Leftists are moral and intellectual parasites—and shameless, unscrupulous legal manipulators into the bargain.

I'd like to see the nation's firearms manufacturers file counter-suits to recover legal costs.

blades67
July 22, 2003, 12:26 AM
They won, they'll win again.

Cal4D4
July 22, 2003, 12:33 AM
"11 percent of handguns sold in 1996 were used in rapes, robberies, assaults and murders by 2000."

Just to challenge the relevance of stats in general, how many of the criminally used weapons were obtained by theft from lawful owners? How many were from cars or convenient storage spots because owner could not legally carry the weapon?

4v50 Gary
July 22, 2003, 01:11 AM
The NAACP did win. The object of these lawsuits is not to prevail on the issue. Rather, it's to drive up the cost of doing business thereby making it economically unfeasible to do business. Tort reform now.

jimpeel
July 22, 2003, 02:03 AM
Let's hope this happens for the firearms manufacturers. I hope thy go for it and reduce the already too-full coffers of the NAACP.

http://www.nrawinningteam.com/beretta2.html

CALIFORNIA COURT AWARDS PAYMENT OF DEFENSE
COSTS TO BERETTA U.S.A. CORP. IN LAWSUIT FILED
BY HANDGUN CONTROL, INC.; DISMISSES HCI
MOTION TO OVERTURN VERDICT

January 22, 1999 -- Alameda County, California Superior Court Judge Richard Hodge today ordered plaintiffs in the case Dix v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp. to pay Beretta U.S.A. for costs incurred by the company while defending itself in the litigation, which was filed by the plaintiffs with the assistance of Handgun Control, Inc. and the San Francisco law firm of Hersh & Hersh. The Dix case received national publicity when the parents of a teenage youth shot by a friend sued the firearm manufacturer on the theory that the pistol used in the accident should have included "smart gun" technology or an internal locking mechanism to prevent its misuse.

The award of costs was the third consecutive loss for Handgun Control, Inc. in the case, coming on the heels of a decision on January 15, 1999 by the Superior Court to throw out a motion filed by the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (the legal action arm of Handgun Control, Inc.) to dismiss a November 1998 jury verdict in favor of Beretta U.S.A. Corp. on the grounds of juror misconduct.

"Handgun Control, Inc's consistent failure in the Dix case should stand as notice to other litigants that this organization is out of touch with the law and with the merits of these cases," commented Jeff Reh, General Counsel for Beretta U.S.A. Corp. "During the Dix case, Beretta presented its concerns about the safety and feasibility of internal locking devices for handguns and the jury agreed with our reservations about this technology. The jury also overwhelmingly determined that the responsibility for safe storage of any firearm lies with the owner, not with the original manufacturer of the gun."

"More importantly," Reh added, "all potential litigants in cases of this type -- including mayors of cities which might be contemplating filing lawsuits against the firearms industry -- should note our industry will aggressively defend itself and will seek reimbursement of litigation costs. Any city which thinks that it can sue the firearms industry without financial risk to itself is mistaken."

In addition to Reh, Beretta U.S.A. Corp. was defended in the Dix case by Robert Gebhardt and Craig Livingston of the San Francisco law firm of Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon and by Lawrence Keane of the White Plains, New York law firm of Pino & Associates.

4v50 Gary
July 22, 2003, 02:05 AM
Amen brother! :D Forgot about that.

Ala Dan
July 22, 2003, 02:22 AM
WHOOOPEE!

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

shooterx10
July 22, 2003, 11:55 AM
Federal Judge Dismisses NAACP Suit Against Gun Industry
By Jeff Johnson
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
July 21, 2003

Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - The latest attempt by opponents of the Second Amendment to hold the firearms industry responsible for the actions of individuals who misuse guns to commit crimes failed Monday. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York accepted a May 14 advisory jury ruling against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and several anti-gun groups that joined in the lawsuit.

Lawrence Keane, vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), said Senior Federal District Judge Jack B. Weinstein did the right thing but went about doing it the wrong way.

"We are clearly pleased by the ultimate outcome of the case," Keane said. "We are, of course, disappointed, but not all that surprised by the route that Judge Weinstein takes because we think that the decision ... ignores New York law and is a slap in the face to the findings of the advisory jury."

After hearing six weeks of testimony, an advisory jury found that none of the firearm industry defendants had created a "public nuisance" as claimed by the NAACP. Weinstein rejected the jury's finding, but, based on the same testimony, still dismissed the case because, he said, the NAACP failed to prove that it had suffered any "special injury" as a result of the defendants' actions.

The NAACP filed the suit in 1999 - with the help of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Handgun Control, Inc.), the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and other anti-gun organizations - attempting to the hold the gun industry liable for what it called "marketing practices that resulted in a proliferation of handguns in many communities."

The NAACP did not return calls seeking comment prior to the deadline for this report.

Federal judge hears case, but state law applies in 'diversity jurisdiction'

As a federal judge, Weinstein presided over the case under federal "diversity jurisdiction" rules that allow federal courts to hear suits in which the defendants and plaintiffs do not reside in the same jurisdiction. Although the case is heard in federal court, the judge is bound by the laws of the state in which the suit is filed.

The appellate division of the New York Supreme Court ruled June 24 that manufacturers of lawful and non-defective products such as firearms cannot be sued under New York law for allegedly creating a "public nuisance" when criminals misuse those products.

"The lawful manufacture, marketing and sale of a defect-free product in a highly regulated activity [is] far removed from the downstream, unlawful use of handguns," the appeals court said, adding "that courts are the least suited, least equipped and thus the least appropriate branch of government to regulate and micro-manage the manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sale of handguns."

The decision upheld an August 2001 ruling in which New York Supreme Court Justice Louis York also dismissed the lawsuit against the gun industry filed by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. York also found that Spitzer failed to tie the industry directly to the alleged "public nuisance" created by criminals misusing firearms.

"It is obvious that the parties most directly responsible for the unlawful use of handguns," York wrote, "are the individuals who unlawfully use them."

Firearms industry believes suits intended to legislate through the courts

In a press release following the May 14 jury recommendation, the NSSF called the NAACP lawsuit "an attempted end-run around Congress and state legislatures."

"This case is also an unconstitutional attempt by this court and radical, anti-gun zealots - who are orchestrating and funding this lawsuit - to impose through litigation a gun control agenda repeatedly rejected by Congress and not supported by most Americans," the NSSF stated.

Erich Pratt, communications director for Gun Owners of America, told CNSNews.com that he believes anti-Second Amendment forces have an even more sinister, underlying agenda.

"They've failed at enacting many of the gun control proposals they've sought, and so now, they're using the court to try to force the gun makers to impose these gun controls upon themselves," he said, "or they're trying to put the gun makers out of business."

The NAACP announcement of the lawsuit on July 12, 1999, lends credence to Pratt's latter assertion.

"And so, the NAACP will be filing litigation this week in the United States District Court against the gun industry in an effort to break the backs of those who help perpetuate this over saturation of weapons in our communities," the group's president, Kweisi Mfume, said. (Emphasis added.)

Pro-gun groups say legislation needed to stop 'frivolous suits'

In a press release responding to the May 14 recommendation, Mfume expressed "disappointment" at the jury's ruling against his group.

"When you consider that Congress is now moving to pass legislation that would prohibit lawsuits such as ours," he said, "it's only a matter of time before more innocent Americans become victims of violence as a result of the availability of illegal weapons."

The NSSF believes, however, that lawsuits attempting to hold gun makers and dealers responsible for acts committed by criminals "will not stop a single crime from occurring."

"The unfair abuse of our legal system - to burden innocent people and law-abiding companies with tremendous costs to defend their innocence - points to the reason legislation now awaiting Senate action must be passed," Keane said.

The legislation to which Mfume and Keane referred is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S. 659), which has 54 cosponsors and passed the House by a vote of 285-140.

In a newspaper advertising campaign begun last Thursday in the New York Times , the Brady Center claims the bill will "let gun dealers get away with murder."

"Quietly sneaking through the United States Senate is an outrageous bill which will slam the courthouse door shut on countless victims of gun crimes," the ad argues. "Believe it or not, this bill...actually immunizes negligent gun dealers and gun makers against lawsuits."

The ad also charges that the bill "is a 'Stay out of Court Free' pass, exempting the gun industry from legal rules that bind every other industry in America."

Pratt told CNSNews.com that the Brady Campaign has either not read the proposed law or is intentionally misrepresenting its content to the public.

"Their ad is entirely ignorant and outrageous," he said, "and flies in the face of reality."

The NSSF agrees.

"[T]his popular legal reform does not grant any special protection or blanket immunity for firearms manufacturers," the group said in a statement about the bill. "Contrary to what groups like the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence claim, it would not stop injured parties from bringing legitimate lawsuits, on well-established legal theories, against members of the firearms industry."

The NSSF argues that "a plaintiff truly injured by a defective product, an illegally sold firearm or a firearm sold by a dealer to an irresponsible person would still be able to bring a lawsuit against a firearm manufacturer or dealer."

A Congressional Research Service (CRS) summary of the bill is nearly identical to the NSSF interpretation.

According to the CRS, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms act would only block or require to be dismissed lawsuits "against a manufacturer or seller of a firearm, ammunition or a component of a firearm that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or against a trade association of such manufacturers or sellers, for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm ." (Emphasis added.)

The proposal would specifically allow lawsuits to continue or be filed in the future:


* Against a seller for negligence per se, or negligent entrustment;

* For physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the firearm when used as intended;

* Against anyone who transfers a firearm knowing that it will be used to commit a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime;

* Against a manufacturer or seller of a firearm who willfully violated a state or federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the firearm [if] the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought; or

* For breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the firearm.


Courts would be required to examine the claims made in a lawsuit against any of the parties covered by the bill. Only if the suit claimed "damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm" would the judge be required to dismiss the suit. All other claims would proceed.

Pratt said the continued attempts by anti-gun forces to use lawsuits to obtain what they can't get through legislation make passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms act vital.

"The bottom line is," he concluded, "it's simply wrong to punish gun makers for selling a legal and constitutionally protected product in a lawful manner.

Here is the link. (http://www.cnsnews.com/Nation/archive/200307/NAT20030721f.html)

alan
July 22, 2003, 04:43 PM
NAACP suit dismissed
Special Edition
July 21, 2003




PROTECT OUR INDUSTRY, PROTECT YOUR JOB -- ACT NOW!

The Senate will next vote on S.659 to prohibit junk lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages resulting from the misuse of their products by others. See whether your Senator is a co-sponsor of this important legislation by clicking here.



Contact your Senators and urge them to support the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Call Both Your U.S. Senators
(202) 224-3121
Enter Your ZIP Code and Write Your Senators by Clicking Here

FIREARMS INDUSTRY WINS IN NAACP CASE

The following is a statement regarding today's victory in New York Federal Court in the NAACP lawsuit brought against the firearms industry:

Another expensive and unfounded court action against the firearms industry came to an end today with Federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein’s decision to follow a 12-member advisory jury panel’s recommendation to exonerate manufacturers and distributors of firearms in a case brought by the NAACP to a Brooklyn Federal courthouse.

In May, not a single defendant was found by the jury to be either intentionally or negligently responsible for a public nuisance the NAACP claims occurs within the highly regulated and federally licensed chain of distribution and sale of firearms in America.

"Manufacturers and distributors of firearms are not responsible for the criminal misuse of their products," said firearm industry attorney Lawrence Keane, vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "The jury understood that these law-abiding companies had done absolutely nothing to cause a public nuisance in New York or harm the NAACP and its members. Judge Weinstein came to the same conclusion, but it was still another costly battle for the industry to defend its innocence."

This decision is the latest defeat for those attempting to use the courtroom for an end-run around the legislative process to impose changes to gun laws that federal and state legislators have roundly rejected.

Just a month ago, a New York appellate court upheld a trial court's August, 2001 order dismissing a lawsuit brought by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer against gun makers. The appellate court said manufacturers of lawful and non-defective products cannot be sued for allegedly creating a "public nuisance" when criminals misuse firearms. The appellate court acknowledged what the firearms industry has maintained all along -"that courts are the least suited, least equipped, and thus the least appropriate branch of government to regulate and micro-manage the manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sale of handguns."

"Today’s decision and the earlier dismissal of New York State’s case, underscores the urgent need for Congress to pass common sense legal reform to stop these kind of “junk” lawsuits that improperly try to blame law-abiding manufacturers for the actions of criminals as a means to bankrupt our industry and to unconstitutionally impose regulate through litigation,” added Keane. “Our industry should never have been forced to spend the $10 Million dollars it cost to defend itself against the NAACP’s baseless lawsuit.”

The Senate is considering legislation (the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” S.659) that would block these types of suits. The bill has already passed the House of Representatives by a wide, bi-partisan margin (285-140) and over thirty states have enacted similar legislation to ban junk lawsuits against gun makers.

Supplementary information about various non-firearms industry support for S. 659 is available on the Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage web site.



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Posters Note:

While finding that the gun industry was involved in "careless marketing", the trial judge seemingly had nothing to say re the fact that this "careless marketing" took place under the supervision and control of the ATF, lately known as the BATFE, or the Federal Gun Police. Interesting, isn't it, and then there is New York's suit, which is another issue.

If you enjoyed reading about "Judge Dismisses NAACP Lawsuit Against Gun Makers" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!