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Indiana Supreme Court anti-gun?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by fallingblock, Dec 25, 2003.

  1. fallingblock

    fallingblock Participating Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Between Georgia and Antarctica
    El Tejon and other Hoosiers, what's happening in gun-friendly Indiana?

    I go away for a while and the State Supremes turn into Brady zealots, or what?:scrutiny:

    Gary's gun lawsuit gets go-ahead
    Ruling by state's top court may set stage for trial

    Ruling's excerpts
    • "The essence of the city's claim is that handgun manufacturers, distributors and dealers conduct their business in a manner that unreasonably interferes with public rights in the city of Gary and therefore have created a public nuisance."
    • "The city asserts that defendants rely upon the laxness of dealers and employees and the ingenuity of criminals to ensure that thousands of handguns find their way into the illegal secondary market."
    • "The city claims that manufacturers are on notice of the concentration of illegal handgun sales in a small percentage of dealers but facilitate (these) sales by failing to curtail supply."

    Companies named in suit
    Following are some of the gun manufacturers and dealers targeted by the city of Gary's lawsuit:
    • Smith & Wesson Corp.: Springfield, Mass., maker of revolvers and other firearms
    • Beretta USA Corp.: Accokeek, Md., arms manufacturer
    • Colt's Manufacturing Corp.: Hartford, Conn., maker of pistols, rifles and other firearms
    • Hi-Point Firearms Corp.: Mansfield, Ohio-based gun maker
    • B.L. Jennings Inc.: Carson City, Nev., sporting goods company
    • Bryco Arms Corp.: Costa Mesa, Calif., company that sells small arms and ammunition
    • Phoenix Arms Corp.: Phoenix company selling guns, ammunition and ammunition reloading equipment
    • Lorcin Engineering Corp.: Mira Loma, Calif., small arms manufacturer
    • Taurus Firearms Corp.: Hialeah, Fla., maker of pistols, rifles and ammunition
    Other companies:
    • Browning Arms Corp.
    • Charter Arms Corp.
    • Davis Industries
    • Glock Corp.
    • Navegar Inc.
    • Sturm, Ruger & Co.

    Key dates in Gary's gun lawsuit
    • August 1999: After an undercover investigation finds gun dealers selling weapons to gang members and felons, Mayor Scott King and the city of Gary file a lawsuit in Lake Superior Court against gun manufacturers and dealers. The lawsuit names 21 defendants.
    • December 1999: Mayor Scott King announces a $10,000 settlement had been reached with one of the gun dealers, Fetla Trading Co. of Valparaiso, which also agreed to stop selling guns in return for being dropped from the lawsuit.
    • March 2001: Lake Superior Court Judge James Richards dismisses Gary's lawsuit, ruling it unconstitutional and saying the city cannot fault businesses beyond its jurisdiction for the crimes committed by others. The city files an appeal.
    • September 2002: The Indiana Court of Appeals rules that Gary can proceed with its suit against three local gun dealers: Cash Indiana of Burns Harbor and Lake Station, Ameri-Pawn of Lake Station and Blythe's Sport Shop of Valparaiso.
    • February 2003: The Indiana Supreme Court hears arguments in the Gary gun case.
    Sources: Star archives, The Associated Press, The Indiana Lawyer

    By Kevin Corcoran
    December 24, 2003

    The Indiana Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for the city of Gary to sue gun manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors over allegations that they sold handguns they knew were likely to end up in the hands of criminals.

    In a decision that could prove far-reaching, the state high court also ruled that this northwestern Indiana city, the state's fifth largest, can pursue its claim that handguns sold without safety devices such as gun locks are negligently designed.

    The 5-0 ruling clears the way for a trial in Lake Superior Court unless Congress votes to ban lawsuits against the gun industry by municipalities and the victims of gun violence. Gary is among 33 municipalities that have sued the industry.

    The U.S. House voted 285-140 on April 9 in favor of a sweeping ban on gun lawsuits. Similar legislation is pending before the Senate.

    Gary officials sued Smith & Wesson Corp. and other gun makers in August 1999 with help from the Washington-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

    "We're very pleased by this decision," Gary Mayor Scott King said. "We should be given the opportunity to be heard. What is the gun industry so afraid of?"

    After Gary filed suit, the Indiana General Assembly acted in its 2000 session to ban lawsuits by other municipalities in the state.

    In March 2001, Lake Superior Court tossed out the negligence and public nuisance case against 11 gun manufacturers, one wholesaler and five retailers, including Cash America, all of whom the city alleges knowingly sold handguns to people who could not legally buy them.

    Indiana's Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice Theodore Boehm, became the second state top court to uphold a municipality's right to sue gun manufacturers to recover taxpayer money spent as a result of gun-related violence. Ohio, in June 2002, became the first to allow such lawsuits.

    In court papers, Gary officials likened their lawsuit to trying to recover the cost of cleaning up a toxic waste spill.

    "The court here held that if gun manufacturers and distributors are supplying criminals, Gary should be able to go to court to stop it," said Daniel Vice, an attorney with the Brady Center. "This ruling is important, especially coming now."

    Gary's mayor, King, said he's troubled by the pending congressional legislation -- even though he doesn't think Congress can halt a lawsuit already in progress.

    His city of 102,746 along the Lake Michigan shoreline -- best known for riverboat casinos, steel production, and a high homicide rate -- wants to:

    • Halt the sale of guns without safety devices.

    • Prohibit gun makers from doing business with disreputable firearms dealers.

    • Collect financial damages.

    The National Rifle Association declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying it's not involved.

    But Lawrence Keane, the National Shooting Sports Federation's vice president and general counsel, said he was disappointed that the Indiana Supreme Court decided to allow a trial on such a "reckless lawsuit." His trade group, which represents gun manufacturers, was dismissed earlier as a defendant in the Gary lawsuit.

    Keane hopes action by Congress will trump Indiana law. But he said manufacturers, coming off cases in which lawsuits have been dropped or thrown out in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio, are ready for further legal proceedings in Gary.

    Dozens of municipalities have sued, but so far none of the cases has gone to trial. Lawsuits brought by the cities of New York and Gary are closest. But obtaining industry documents and sworn testimony in the Gary case to prepare for trial could take at least two more years, according to a member of the city's legal team.

    Gary's success came as a pleasant surprise to Kathleen George, president of Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence, an Indianapolis nonprofit group formed in the early 1990s. Last month, her group honored King for standing up to gun makers.

    "This is the best Christmas present I've received so far," George said.

    But gun advocates harshly criticized the Indiana ruling as another case of trial lawyers run amok in a lawsuit-happy society.

    "This is just completely ludicrous," said Jerry Wehner, president of the Indiana State Rifle & Pistol Association.

    "Gary has a horrendous crime problem, and they blame everybody else for it. They're to blame," the Rising Sun man said. "Guns aren't inherently wrong. This is about money."
  2. goalie

    goalie Participating Member

    May 1, 2003
    Minnetonka, Minnesota
    It is not the job or duty of the firearms manufacturer to assess the reputation of a dealer. The BATFE's job is to ensure that dealers do not break the law. They are the licensing agency, and a valid FFL is an endorsement by the BATFE that the dealer is law-abiding. When a dealer is not law-abiding, it is the job of the BATFE to revoke that license. THAT IS WHY THEY EXIST.

    Now, I understand how things happen in a jury trial that shouldn't, but I really fail to see how an appeals court can just overlook the FACT that firearms are one of the most highly regulated consumer goods in existence today. The manufacturers being sued cannot legally sell firearms to anyone who is not an FFL holder. A person or buisness must undergo a serious background check in order to obtain the aformentioned FFL. So, if the BATFE approved FFL that a firearms manufacturer sells weapons to turns around and breaks the law, how is it even conceivable to even a half-wit that the manufacturer, who, as stated before, sold the weapon to a BATFE "approved" dealers, has any culpability at all?!?!?!?

  3. El Tejon

    El Tejon Elder

    Dec 24, 2002
    Lafayette, Indiana-the Ned Flanders neighbor to Il
    Falling, the Supreme Court allowed the suit to survive summary judgment. Based on Indiana's precedent toward summary judgment ("Yeah, go ahead and try and prove--everyone gets their day in court"), I am not surprised. The city still has to prove it.

    IF they do, they still have to prove causation and damages. IOW, they have a long road to go. Still trying to figure out how their proposed remedies are legal.:confused: :rolleyes:
  4. Chipper

    Chipper New Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Gary is one the very few cities in Indiana to have gained exceptions from the state legislature to enact it's own gun laws. Due to this status it is highly likely that the Indiana State Supreme Court is willing to hear this case based on these extraordinary exceptions and in order to limit the extent of those exceptions.

    Neither are these dealers being tried under federal law which means that BATFE approval of the dealers is unnecessary for the purposes of Indiana law. Indiana has it's own laws regulating firearms dealers. The firearms laws of Indiana are somewhat similar to federal laws, though not as stringent nor as complex, regarding dealers and lawful transfers of firearms. It could very well be that there were "inventory discrepancies" and other errors on the dealer's transaction records that gave cause to the courts to try this case. If these dealers failed the standards of the law regarding transfers in Indiana then Gary's case will seem to have merit against the dealers.

    As to the suit against the manufacturer's of firearms, I would hazard a guess that Gary will lose. Indiana has remained relatively clear and consistent on responsibility issues in product liability cases. I would tend to agree with the assessment that this case is, in fact, about money, with the added bonus of the publicity to help further the careers and ambitions of those on the bench. Despite the selfish acts of the judiciary at taxpayer expense and great cost to the firearms industry, the ISSC will, in the end, rule in favor of the firearms industry.

  5. Gray Peterson

    Gray Peterson Participating Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Lynnwood, Washington
    Gary does not have any such exemptions. Quote the Indiana Code that gives them that kind of power, please.
  6. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    Save for the leftist extremist judicial oligarchy, this so-called "case" and all others like it would have been dismissed at the outset.

    You can always count on leftists to do the wrong thing.
  7. HBK

    HBK member

    Apr 21, 2003
    A liberal hellhole: Olympia, WA.
    I would say that they are anti gun. Any good leftist court is anti gun. "good leftist court"...that's some kind of oxymoron.
  8. fallingblock

    fallingblock Participating Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Between Georgia and Antarctica
    Thanks All....

    "Based on Indiana's precedent toward summary judgment ("Yeah, go ahead and try and prove--everyone gets their day in court"), I am not surprised. The city still has to prove it.

    IF they do, they still have to prove causation and damages. IOW, they have a long road to go."

    El Tejon, that was what I was hoping to hear.....that the ISSC decision was dictated by precedent rather than court bias. How has the court's recent record been on firearm cases?

    But, durnit, Standing wolf is correct...these foolish notions should have died out quite a while ago....:eek:
  9. jimpeel

    jimpeel Senior Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    Kimball, NE
    Here's the rub. Other manufacturers, like the automobile industry, had better get behind the firearms industry; or they are next. The greed-driven lawyers will state that the auto manufacturers have flooded the market with more cars than the public can buy; and thus those cars end up in the hands of drunk drivers. The proof of this is every car that sits in a driveway unused due to inoperability, or it being an extra car that exceeds the number of drivers in that household.

    The manufacturers obviously know that cars will fall into the wrong hands and the way this happens is by those who have too many cars disposing of them to a ready criminal buying public.

    In difference to those who claim they never read the cigarette pack, and thus missed the cancer warning, auto manufacturers cannot say that they never read the newspaper about the number of drunk driving deaths and arrests. The fact that all manufacturers have at one time worked on -- or are currently working on -- alcohol detection systems for automobiles is proof enough that they are aware of the problem. The fact that they have been doing this will be used as evidence against them in court by the very people who demanded they do this research in the first place.
  10. popeye

    popeye Participating Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    N.W. Indiana
    I live next door to Gary. Gary has the dubious title of "Murder capitol of the U.S.". They claim that right not because of the number of murders, but because of the percentage of murders per capita. Even though obtaining a Carry Permit is relatively simple in Indiana, at one point legal carry was banned in Gary for quite a while. That city law was overturned about 10 yrs. ago. Nowdays at their own descretion city police may confiscate your gun if your driving and stopped for a traffic infraction, unless you have the sales receipt for the gun on you (even if you have your gun permit in your in your wallet.) They've also been known to confiscate high caps under the same cicumstance. The only way to retrieve your gun is go to the shop you bought it from and have them look up the 4473 and issus a new receipt. High caps usually stay gone.
  11. El Tejon

    El Tejon Elder

    Dec 24, 2002
    Lafayette, Indiana-the Ned Flanders neighbor to Il
    popeye, you certain?:confused: This is theft.

    If true someone needs to contact the USA and sue civilly.

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