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One way or another they are going to melt down Bryco.

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Bruce H, Jul 9, 2004.

  1. Bruce H

    Bruce H Participating Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    North Mo.
    Lockyer joins fight to buy gun maker

    Boy disabled by firearm flaw wants to close factory
    The state Attorney General's Office has intervened in a federal bankruptcy trial in a way that could help a teenager buy out and shut down the manufacturer of a semiautomatic handgun with a design flaw that left the boy paralyzed from the neck down since the age of 7.

    The boy is represented by San Rafael attorney Richard Ruggieri, who gave up representing other clients in his law practice three years ago to work on the boy's case full time.

    In a highly unusual action, Randy Rossi, director of the firearms division of the state Department of Justice, wrote to a federal bankruptcy judge in Florida last Tuesday that the man the judge tentatively approved to buy the manufacturer, Paul Jimenez, is ineligible to make guns because he lacks federal and California firearms licenses.

    Therefore, Rossi wrote to the judge, Jerry A. Funk of U.S. Bankruptcy Court, he was "submitting this written objection to the sale" on behalf of the state Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

    Lockyer's intervention could benefit Brandon Maxfield, now 17, who was accidentally shot through the chin and spine in 1994 when his babysitter was trying to unload a .38-caliber Bryco handgun owned by Brandon's parents.

    Last year Brandon and Ruggieri won a record $24 million jury award in Alameda County Court against the gun's manufacturer, Bryco Arms, and Bryco's founder and the gun's designer, Bruce Jennings, after showing that because of a faulty design, the sitter had to turn the safety off to unload the gun.

    Now, after having helped force Bryco into bankruptcy proceedings, Brandon and Ruggieri are trying to raise at least $150,000 to buy out the company, one of the leading makers of cheap handguns known as Saturday night specials, and melt down its inventory of 75,000 handgun frames and slides.

    Ruggieri said the case has been all-consuming, but he pursued it because of Brandon and his injuries.

    "Mr. Jennings and Mr. Jimenez have gone on record saying there is nothing wrong," Ruggieri said. "This is a plant that has put millions of these guns on the street."

    Just because a jury finds a product defective does not mean it is taken off the market, Ruggieri said.

    "It is one of the most glaring product defects I have seen in 22 years of practice," Ruggieri said. "There is nothing legally to get them to stop making millions of these guns and putting them on the street."

    Funk last week gave tentative approval to the sale of Bryco's machinery for $150,000 to Jimenez, a former Bryco plant manager whom Ruggieri claims is simply a stand-in for Jennings. But Funk allowed 20 more days for objections and left open the possibility of higher bids.

    "The attorney general's action could give us more time to raise money and make a higher offer," Ruggieri said.

    But Jennings' lawyer, Ned Nashban, of Boca Raton, Fla., said, "The attorney general is barking up the wrong tree." Funk, Nashban said, is only deciding who will buy the company, not whether the new owner will manufacture guns.

    "Mr. Jimenez could use the machinery to make widgets," Nashban said.

    Neither Jennings nor Jimenez responded to messages left on their answering machines, but Nashban strongly denied any collusion between the two men. "I am not aware of any deal between Jennings and Jimenez," Nashban said.

    Ruggieri said he believed Jennings "is just flipping the business over as he has done in the past."

    In 1986, after losing an earlier lawsuit, Jennings sold his gun manufacturing company to his manager at the time, only to re-establish the business later, said Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis.

    In their effort to buy out Bryco, Brandon and Ruggieri have taken the name Brandon's Arms and appealed for donations on their Web site. They have also asked for contributions from gun control groups, celebrities and politicians with strong anti-gun views, though with little success so far.

    "I was very naive about it," Ruggieri said. "I thought here was a concrete chance to actually do something about stopping gun violence, not just make a donation to some politician."

    An official for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said the center's president, Michael Barnes, had been approached to give money to Brandon's Arms, but declined to do so. "Obviously no one wants to see Bryco back in business under any name," said the official, who said the organization had limited resources and was gearing up for a fight in Congress over renewing the assault-weapons ban. Brandon has received a payment of $3 million from one of Jennings' three ex-wives, as well as $5.75 million from the insurance companies for an unrelated gun distributor.

    But he does not have much money to buy Bryco himself, Ruggieri said. First, he must reimburse Medi-Cal, California's state health care system, $1 million, and there were $500,000 in expenses for the trial, for expert witnesses, depositions and travel, Ruggieri said. Ruggieri would not disclose his fee, set by the court. The rest of the money has been deposited in a trust for Brandon's lifetime medical care, estimated at $11 million, and his education.

    Collecting the judgment against Jennings has been complicated by his efforts to protect his assets.

    In a 1999 interview in Business Week magazine, Jennings described his strategy for dealing with lawsuits against his companies. "They can file for bankruptcy, dissolve, go away until the litigation passes by, then reform and build guns to the new standard - if there is a new standard."

    Jennings not only controls Bryco, the gun maker, but also B.L. Jennings Inc., which distributed the guns; seven trusts in the names of his three children and a string of luxury boats, cars and planes, Ruggieri has said in court documents.

    In 2002, shortly before Brandon's case went to trial, Jennings, who lived in Southern California and Nevada, traveled to Florida to consult with Nashban, a bankruptcy lawyer, on what Nashban has described as estate planning.

    Within a few days, Jennings bought a house in Daytona Beach for $950,000 and an annuity for $500,000, according to the bankruptcy court records. Under Florida law, people sued for bankruptcy can protect the entire value of their houses and in many cases their annuities.

    Jennings sold Bryco's factory building in Costa Mesa to a real estate company, Knowleton Communities Inc., for $4 million. The money was deposited in some of the seven partnerships in the names of Jennings' three children, Ruggieri has said in court documents.

    In a deposition for the bankruptcy proceedings, Jimenez said he would buy Bryco with a loan from Knowleton Communities.

    Nashban, Jennings' lawyer, said Jennings' purchase of a home in Florida and the annuity were "prudent estate planning to protect his family from his business. Anyone in a high-risk business does that."

    Ruggieri has objected to Funk's decision to allow the proceeds of the sale to Jimenez to be deposited in the bank account of Nashban's law firm, Quarles & Brady, not a neutral party.

    "Here's the guy who advised Jennings on how to hide his assets now being in charge of holding the money to pay the creditors," Ruggieri said.

    The federal bankruptcy trustee in Jacksonville, Fla., Felicia Turner, filed a motion with Funk last Monday supporting Ruggieri's complaint.

    Last week Brandon was back in Oakland Children's Hospital for what he described in a telephone interview as a "very minor" operation, a skin graft to relieve a pressure sore.

    Brandon is in high school in Willits, where he lives with his mother and father. He is hoping to be admitted to UC Davis to study marine biology or paleontology.

    Brandon said he harbors no personal grudge, but wonders, "How can he look at himself in the morning, knowing some kid is going to be injured by one of his guns?"

    So why is Brandon Maxfield, a minor, being allowed to bid?
  2. Michigander

    Michigander Participating Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    :fire: :banghead: :cuss: :barf:
  3. Daedalus

    Daedalus Active Member

    Jul 23, 2003
    Gainesville, Florida
    Um, don't you have to disengage the safety to unload an AK-47 type rifle? The bolt will not operate far enough to extract the round with the selector up..I am sure there are other rifles like this, the CETME comes to mind as well.

    So this babysitter was futzing around with a weapon she was not familiar with and the manufacturer gets sued? Good grief.
  4. Desertdog

    Desertdog Participating Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Ridgecrest Ca
    With this way of thinking why arn't they trying to shut down Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Inc., Subaru, Dodge and all the other car and truck manufacturing companies due to all the injuries caused by their defective products.
  5. ksnecktieman

    ksnecktieman Participating Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Junction City, Kansas
    Ruggieri said the case has been all-consuming, but he pursued it because of Brandon and his injuries.
    Yes, and he spent three years at it? And he surely NEVER considered how much his share of 24 million is?

    I call BS here, he did it for the money, Not for the poor crippled little kid :mad:

    This was a case of looking for deep pockets, and suing the one with the most chance of paying. Blame this on the bad gun handling skills of the person that pulled the trigger with the gun pointed at someone.

    It is impossible to "idiot proof" a gun, or a car, or a bottle of booze, or even prescription medicine.
  6. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    Huge mouths; small pockets.
  7. jefnvk

    jefnvk Senior Member

    Jun 3, 2004
    The Copper Country, Michigan
    Surely someone here has $200,000 to buy a gun company, and start using it to make better guns?
  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Nevada, escaped from the PDRK via Idaho.
    Did he really expect to collect 35-40% of $24 million from a small firearms manufacturer?

    Getting judgments is relatively easy compared to collecting them. Ask any torts attorney.

  9. Nightfall

    Nightfall Participating Member

    Feb 24, 2003
    It's not a design flaw if something works exactly as it is supposed to. It's not a design flaw if somebody does not follow the proscribed directions for performing an action, and gets an undesired result. It's not a design flaw if you don't know what you're doing, handle something you know nothing about, and your ignorance of the mechanics of the object is what leads you to negligently discharge it. By this logic, I'm going to go out to my Honda Accord, take off the parking break, shift it into drive, and when it rolls down the hill and into a tree, I'm going to sue Honda because the car shouldn't have let me do that. :rolleyes: Why, I should have been able to not follow the directions, ignore common sense safety rules, and perform my actions in an incorrect order and still have gotten the results I wanted! The car should KNOW what I want!
    Uh, why? Why does Jennings' ex-wife or an unrelated gun distributor have to shell out cash to this kid? I'm confused.
  10. fletcher

    fletcher Senior Member

    May 19, 2004

    And I'm sure she had to point it at someone to unload it, too.

    Keep the barrel in a safe direction, anyone?
  11. Treylis

    Treylis Participating Member

    Dec 14, 2003
    Tempe, Arizona
    If Bryco made an AK, I wouldn't want it. If they made an AK in .38... I really wouldn't want it! ;-)
  12. Feanaro

    Feanaro Senior Member

    Mar 29, 2003
    Leeds, AL.
    On the one hand, I support the 'feller's right to buy something(And the sellers right to sell, or not sell, it) and do what he pleases with it. On the other, he is a moron. A huge waste of good money. The lawsuit is(was?) also crap. A design flaw is a defect design in a firearm. The weapon wasn't defective, it worked perfectly. The baby-sitter, on the other hand, is most certainly defective. Can we sue the "factory", her parents?
  13. c_yeager

    c_yeager Mentor

    Mar 14, 2003
    A whole slew of weapons require one to disengage the safety prior to clearing the chamber. Aparently this will soon be another feature of an "unsafe gun" unfit to be had in California.
  14. BlkHawk73

    BlkHawk73 Senior Member

    Mar 27, 2003

    Better? Could those little POS really get worse?

    Now maybe it isn't the best design around but firstly, a few basic firearms laws were broken here. What about the ignorance of the babysitter? What about endangering the welfare of a child? What about taking responsibilty of one's own actions. Nah, not in these times. it's ALWAYS someone else fault.
  15. David Scott

    David Scott New Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    IMHO, if it is possible to desgin a firearm so that you DON'T have to disengage the safety for unloading or loading, you damned well ought to do so. It's a common sense precaution. I do NOT think that the stupidity of one manufacturer, known for poorly made products, is reason to slam the whole firearms industry -- though that's exactly what some will make of it.

    Granted, the babysiter was careless in actual gun-handling practices. You NEVER point the weapon at anyone you don't intend to shoot. Still, I think the Bryco design WAS flawed. Other posters have mentioned other weapons that must be unsafed to unload, and I thank them for identifying weapons that I won't be buying.
  16. TheOtherOne

    TheOtherOne Participating Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    I just checked a few of my guns and you'll want to make sure to never put any of these on your buy list:

    Browning Hi-Power
    M/N 91/30

    Also, you won't want to consider a S&W M66, Glock 27, Kel-Tec P32. They don't even have a safety to disengage in the first place! :eek:
  17. Destructo6

    Destructo6 Participating Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    Tucson, AZ
    You mean like "placing the stop pedal so close to the go pedal that they could be easily manipulated by the same foot"? Don't give them any ideas.

    So, the babysitter flipped off the safety, pulled the trigger, and the gun went "bang!"? Isn't that what a reasonable person would assume should happen?
  18. feedthehogs

    feedthehogs Participating Member

    Jan 8, 2003
    Jennings products are garbage but he should be put out of business by no one buying his products, not from lawsuits based on the stupidity of some one who does not know how to operate said product safely.

    As far as not buying a gun with a safety that has to be engaged to unload.

    Thats an accident waiting to happen. Depending on a mechanical device to protect you or others is a fools way of thinking. It is after all a mechanical device and at some time can and will fail.

    Proper knowledge of your firearm and how it operates is essential.
    Without this knowledge, you are a danger to others.

    40 years of hunting, shooting and gun handling many 10s of thousands of rounds has never produced a ND. I have rarely ever used a safety on a gun.
    To me a safety gives people a false sense of security.
  19. David Scott

    David Scott New Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Just to clarify a bit, weapons like the Kel-Tec P32 are double action, and the longer, heavier trigger pull IS the "safety".
  20. MacViolinist

    MacViolinist New Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    The Lone Star State
    A long, heavy pull is a safety? The babysitter pulled the trigger to unload the gun. Do you think she would've changed her mind if it had been a long, hard pull? If a person doesn't know jack about guns, I strongly suggest that a person not pick one up. This is completely bogus. If my client "accidentally" types "sudo rm -r -f" into a terminal window and erases their entire life history, should they be allowed to sue me? Perhaps they should sue Berkely (somewhat obscure unix reference). There was no malfuction of the gun. You pull the trigger and it goes BANG! At least it does 4 out of 10 times on a Bryco.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2004

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