Skip to comments.Store That Sold Gun Agrees To Pay $1 Million To Wounded West Virginia Officers
Posted on 06/23/2004 12:05:36 PM PDT by Stew Padasso
Store That Sold Gun Agrees To Pay $1 Million To Wounded West Virginia Officers
............ JENNIFER BUNDY Associated Press
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A judge approved a landmark $1 million settlement Wednesday between two New Jersey police officers and the store that sold the gun used to shoot them.
Police officers David Lemongello and Kenneth McGuire of Orange, N.J., were shot with a Sturm, Ruger 9mm handgun in January 2001. Both were disabled and have retired. Their attacker, Shuntez Everett, was killed in a gunbattle with them.
The settlement between the officers and the Will Co., which operated Will's Jewelry and Loan in South Charleston, was approved by Kanawha County Circuit Judge Irene Berger.
The shop sold the gun and 11 others in July 2000 in a "straw sale," in which someone without a criminal record buys guns and turns them over to someone else. The store later contacted federal agents and cooperated in an undercover sting.
"This is the first case in which a gun dealer will pay damages, has paid damages for facilitating the gun trafficking in this way," said Dennis Hanigan, an attorney for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The center and Charleston attorney Scott Segal are co-counsel for the police officers.
Segal said the settlement "shows gun retailers they have to be careful about who they sell their guns to and under what circumstances."
Lawrence Keane, an attorney for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, said there have been other settlements of cases against gun stores by people who were shot, but he did not know if any of those cases involved a "straw sale."
The gun used to shoot the officers was bought by Tammi Lea Songer of South Charleston, who turned the guns over to James Gray, a convicted felon who could not buy guns. Gray sold them to convicted felons, including Everett. Songer and Gray spent time in prison for their roles.
An attorney for the store, Michael Folio, said the shop is not admitting liability or that it did not follow industry standards, but settled because ``it was a decision we found to be in the best interest of all parties.
"It was a tragedy what happened to the officers. It was a tragedy these people bought the guns by lying and deceiving and deceiving Will Company to begin with."
The gun retail industry has voluntary standards about gun sales, including how to be wary of straw sales, Segal said.
"The message is, if you didn't follow the standards as a retailer or a wholesaler, you are going to wind up having to pay money for your conduct," Segal said.
Songer gave the store false federal gun purchase forms and paid for the 12 guns with $4,000 cash Gray gave her in the store, the officers' attorneys said.
The day after the sale, store workers became suspicious because of the number of weapons Songer bought and contacted the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The agency and the store set up a sting operation in which ATF officers dressed as store clerks, and Songer was arrested when she returned to buy guns again, Folio said.
Folio complained the settlement means "if a company like Will Jewelry complies with the ATF laws it appeared that company can be sued and have to pay damages."
The lawsuit is still pending against Sturm, Ruger and also names Ohio gun distributor Acusport as a defendant.
Acusport sold the gun to another distributor, who sold it to a Baptist minister. He gave or sold the gun to a friend who was a firearms collector. That person pawned it at the shop where the straw sale occurred.
Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation attorney, said suing the manufacturer and distributor is "an attempt to extort a settlement."
"Manufacturers don't control what goes on inside the store. It's like suing Budweiser if a bartender serves an intoxicated person," Keane said.
The responsible criminal was the person who acted as a straw party, but criminals don't have deep pockets, so go after the innocent party.
So it begins, I knew the Repubs would wimp out on protecting our gun rights.
Talk about spin. In a desperate effort to give the case precident they put in the language about the judge approving the settlement. Why didn't the defense lawyer put in a confidentiality agreement on the settlement?
It also does not mention if it is INSURANCE that is paying this bill. If it is insurance then the owner is not actually out money other than in the form of loosing a carrier. The article does not mention clearly if the man KNEW it was a straw sale or if the owner arranged it himself.
What does this have to do with Republicans?
There's also something that's NOT voluntary. It's called 18 USC 922, I believe.
Buy 'em now, folks.
Insurers will see this and raise rates for liability insurance for FFLs.
And that can only cause firearms prices to go up.
Another nail in the coffin, folks- if they can't ban 'em, Plan B is to price 'em out of the reach of most people.
I would usually have sympathy for police officers injured in the line of duty but when a gun has gone through eight different owners before reaching the criminal. to try and hold ruger responsible requires me to point out that they can find sympathy in the dictionary somewhere between s#it and syphllis.
"The article does not mention clearly if the man KNEW it was a straw sale or if the owner arranged it himself."
That is the part that concerns me.
I understand that if you buy two or more pistols in one day, the dealer MUST notify BATFE.
...another scheme for wealth redistribution to left/liberal lobbies of singles.
They did not fight anywhere near hard enough to get Tort reform IMHO. They are rapidly becoming minions of the Trial Lawyers just like the Dims.
So if the store KNOWINGLY sold the guns to a "straw purchaser" that was buying on behalf of criminals - I can at least see where this case was coming from.
On the other hand - unless the criminal was standing right there, how is a gun dealer suppose to know that it is a straw purchase?
I guess if I am ever injured by a drunk driver, I can not only sue the bartender/liquor store who sold the liquor to the driver, but I can also sue the dealership that sold the "lethal weapon" to the drunk driver (at least if he has a record of drunk driving)?
The perp that shot the officers got his - he died in the gunfight. I am fairly certain that the officers were covered by workers comp, as well as some sort of disability coverage -and should have had their own such policies on top.
I feel for the officers but would feel a lot more comfortable with a lawsuit against the straw purchaser(s). They were the ones who actually provided the weapons to the criminals.
I wonder if we can sue John Effin Kerry because Heinz ketchup enhances the flavor of meat and that causes some people to eat too much and gain weight?
Yeah, why not do background checks on people who purchase cars. Too many speeding tickets? DUIs--no car or the dealership is held liable. Who knows, it may be coming one day.
Oops, that's wrong. We would have to sue the tomato farmers that sold the tomatoes to Heinz.
Seems to me everyone involved in this case, on the prosecution side are greedy perverts, only US citizens, not Americans.
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