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(CA Jury finds) Gun maker liable in shooting of boy
| May 10, 2003
| Jon Dougherty
Posted on 05/10/2003 7:51:36 AM PDT by FairOpinion
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."
TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: bang; california; gunlaws; guns; jury; liable; manufacturer; thechildren
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I guess the stupidity of juries knows no bounds. When are they going to start suing knife manufacturers every time some idiot's hand slips and cuts themselves, or hammer manufacturers, when people hit their thumbs, not to mention car manufacturers every time some idiot causes an accident, as a result of driver negligence.
"Never point the gun at something you aren't willing to destroy."
posted on 05/10/2003 8:01:41 AM PDT
"...or hammer manufacturers, when people hit their thumbs...
I was about to tee off on this article, but your post changed my mind.
I'm going to be rich! I'm going to be rich!! I'm going to be fabulously RICH!!!.....
it could be some time before Brandon sees any money, if ever.
You can safely bet Brandon's lawyer will see money, some way, some how. This isn't about Brandon, this is about money, that magical paper substance that bestows the grace of justice upon it's possessors, minus a small transaction cost.
posted on 05/10/2003 8:06:09 AM PDT
posted on 05/10/2003 8:06:50 AM PDT
(Californians are as dumm as a sack of rocks)
What kind of gun requires you to put its safety in 'fire' position to unload?
If that part of it is true, it's little wonder the jury decided to punish such a stupid gunmaker. Not that I would have voted for it on the jury since no one should be allowed to even handle a gun without understanding that you never point it at anything you don't intend to shoot. Especially another person.
It's always been said that these lawsuits are frivolous because the gunmaker was not at fault in producing a weapon that fired. But in this case, if the facts presented are correct, there would be a strong case that putting the safety on 'fire' to unload could result in a misfiring sooner or later.
I'd really like to know if the gun had to be put on 'fire' in order to unload. This sounds pretty crazy.
One has to wonder if the family has concocted this story just for the lawsuit too.
posted on 05/10/2003 8:10:58 AM PDT
(They talk of my drinking but never my thirst.)
The problem is really not the lawyers, but the idiot jurors and judges. If the jurors and judges would stop awarding huge awards to anyone who sues, no matter how frivolous the lawsuit, the shyster lawyers chasint the "deep pockets" would be out of business. Lawyers keep bringing these lawsuits, because it works for them.
I think we should revamp the judicial and jury system.
Just look at the tobacco awards, and now they are suing fast food places, no matter what stupid things people do, they find someone else to blame and sue.
You can safely bet Brandon's lawyer will see money, some way, some how.
You have that absolutely right.
posted on 05/10/2003 8:11:58 AM PDT
(Jeremiah 51:24 ..."..Before your eyes I will repay Babylon for all the wrong they have done in Zion")
NRA member/Attorney weighing in here ...
My understanding, from what I have been able to read about this case, is that one had to take the safety off before the gun could be unloaded, and the plaintiffs contended this was a design defect making the gun unreasonably unsafe.
One analogy I have heard is to a lawn mower manufacturer making a lawnmower that you could only change the blades on it while the gas-powered motor was on (which would undoubtedly make it more dangerous).
I believe the vast majority of these lawsuits against gun manufacturers are completely frivolous, but I also allow for the possibility that some guns may be poorly designed or manufactured, making them even more dangerous than they are inherently.
The gun manufacturer should not be blamed for the stupidity of the baby sitter. Whenever someone is handling a firearm, they must assume it is LOADED. Furthermore, THEY MUST NOT POINT GUN AT SOMETHING THEY DO NOT WISH TO SHOOT.
It is very common for firearms to require the safety to be off, when clearing the action.
posted on 05/10/2003 8:18:01 AM PDT
posted on 05/10/2003 8:25:07 AM PDT
Thanks for the link. I wonder if this is the model...
Model Jennings Nine,
9mm LUGER caliber Semiautomatic Pistol
These pistols may create an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CONDITION and a POTENTIAL FOR SERIOUS INJURY by firing without pulling the trigger.
During the testing of a Bryco Arms, Jennings Nine pistol by a forensic firearms examiner it was noted that it would fire upon release of the thumb safety and spontaneously fire in a FULL AUTO MODE on an inconsistent bases. When loaded with the manual thumb safety in the "safe" position, if the trigger of the submitted firearm has been pulled stiffly a few times, the firearm will discharge when the thumb safety is moved to the "fire" position.
Disassembly of the pistol revealed some wear/damage to the sear which allows slight downward movement when the trigger is pulled. It appears due to the wear/damage the sear/striker engagement is reduced allowing the striker to override the sear after the thumb safety is released.
MANUALLY UNLOADING THIS PISTOL MAY BE VERY DANGEROUS SINCE IT COULD DISCHARGE DURING THIS PROCEDURE.
- AFTE Journal, Spring 2001; Volume 33, Number 2:145-147
- Illinois State Police Laboratory, Springfield - Notice, December 7, 2000
posted on 05/10/2003 8:26:06 AM PDT
Something is very fishy about this case. Note, that "12 year old "believed" that "some adult" asked him to bring the gun". Excuse me, seems like the only adult around was the baby sitter. Did he ask the kid to bring the gun? Then, obviously not knowing much about guns, he fiddled with it, and accidentally shot the kid. Just exactly whose fault is this? I can't see any guilty party here except the babysitter.
This one does sound like a manufacturing defect and the manufacturer should recall these guns.
Why wouldn't the "adult" just get the gun themselves? Why was the babysitter even messing around with the gun in the first place? If they were so incompetent, why didn't they just leave the gun alone? You're right, something doesn't add up here.
BTW, the most likely outcome is that the lawyers will pocket millions of dollars and the kid will get a coupon for $100 off future medical care.
posted on 05/10/2003 8:34:00 AM PDT
A California jury has found a firearms manufacturer partially liable
Strange article. No amount of award listed. No manufacturer listed. Doesn't tell the model of the gun. Heck, doesn't even tell us if it was a revolver or semi-automatic pistol. I assume it was a semi-auto but it doesn't tell us if a bullet was in the chamber while Babysitter Man was trying to unload it while pointing it at the boy's head (obviously, there was no other place to point it).
This reporting is just plain shoddy.
Gun manufacturers are as liable as anyone else for product manufacture lawsuits. The new law is unlikely to protect them from a defective design lawsuit.
But I have reconsidered my earlier remarks too. If the manufacturer had forced you to put the safety on 'safe' in order to reload/unload/change clips, then it would have been unsuitable for police and (I think) some target shooting competitions.
Actually, as I've thought about it, it seems to me that the family should only have a case against the babysitter. Judging by the article, he was forced to put the safety on 'fire' to unload it so there is no way he could not have known that the gun was prepared to fire. So I've decided they have no case against the manufacturer at all unless the safety on/off was somehow inadequately marked for clarity.
I'd like to hear more from you and FR's other legal eagles on the liability issues when we get an adequate report on the case's specifics.
Yeah, the present House bill would immunize gun-makers from traditional products-liability actions. Then we'd see guns with no safeties at all.
Larry Eldridge's _Trials of a Philadelphia Lawyer_, which I read in law school 30 years ago, mentioned one of his cases where a hunter's DOG shot him. He had put his rifle on safe and laid it against a fence while he crossed the fence. His dog knocked the rifle over while jumping the fence and it discharged.
The rifle was bagged by the ambulance crew. Eldridge filed suit for the hunter and the rifle was delivered to the parties' expert witnesses for disassembly. The rifle manufacturer defendant's representative suggested the rifle be placed on a white sheet before disassembly. A little speck came out of the safety when they opened it up and the rifle guy said, "Aha!"
It turned out that the safety had been jammed by some undetonated powder. The experts agreed on how the safety design made that possible, the case was settled and the safety was redesigned.
And no other hunters were injured that way.
The House bill removes all incentives for gun manufacturers to produce safe weapons.
I suppose they'll do the same for car manufacturers next.
posted on 05/10/2003 8:40:12 AM PDT
Yeah, after reading that webpage, I think FReepers had better avoid those Bryco guns. What a list of safety problems! Sounds like they've made some very shoddy firearms.
I agree that it sounds fishy. Often we do not get a fulla count of court cases.
Everyone laments the outrageous McDonald's coffee cup verdict, but few heard about McDonald's own internal memos saying that their coffee was much hotter than it needed to be, and that many people had reported burns from spilling coffee, epspecially in their laps in the drive-thru (usually when the lids are not properly affixed). However others at McD's noted that they can squeeze more drinkable coffee out of fewer coffee beans (translating into higher sales and profits) if they make it at a higher temperature. BTW, the plaintiff received the equivalent of one day's coffee profits from McD's sales. Needless to say they are still in business. I wonder of their coffee is still as hot?
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