In an order released yesterday, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch ruled against the plaintiffs in the case of Sandy Phillips, et al., v. Lucky Gunner, LLC., et al.
Sandy and Lonnie Phillips are the parents of Jessica Ghawi, one of the victims of the Aurora movie theater shooting. The lawsuit was backed by the anti-gun Brady Center.
According to a September 2014 report by ABC 7 News in Denver, the lawsuit accused “the four online suppliers of ammunition and military-grade equipment of failing to screen the gunman and making it too easy for him to buy ammunition, tear gas and body armor.”
“We’re putting them on notice, we’re coming after you,” Lonnie Phillips was reported as saying.
Apparently, the law had something else to say about that.
The case was dismissed for failure to overcome the industry protections in the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (15 U.S.C. § 7901 et seq.), also known as PLCAA, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005. The plaintiffs’ arguments were also found to collapse under a similar state law that protects the firearms community from frivolous and harassing tort claims.
Adding to the sting of losing the case, the Court also held that “defendants Lucky Gunner and the Sportsman’s Guide are entitled to an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs.”
Notably, the U.S. Department of Justice intervened in support of the constitutionality of the PLCAA:
The United States of America intervenes in this case for the limited purpose of defending the constitutionality of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901- 7903 (the “Protection Act” or “Act”), which plaintiffs challenge in their Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (“Pl. Opp.”) (ECF No. 27). The Protection Act stands on firm constitutional footing. Virtually identical arguments to those advanced by plaintiffs here have already been rejected by courts in previous Protection Act litigation. See, e.g., Ileto v. Glock, 565 F.3d 1126, 1138-42 (9th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 3320 (2010); City of New York v. Beretta, 524 F.3d 384, 392-98 (2d Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 1579 (2009); Estate of Charlot v. Bushmaster Firearms, Inc., 628 F. Supp. 2d 174, 182-86 (D.D.C. 2009); Estate of Kim v. Coxe, 295 P.3d 380, 388-92 (Alaska 2013); Adames v. Sheahan, 909 N.E.2d 742, 764-65 (Ill.), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 1014 (2009); District of Columbia v. Beretta, 940 A.2d 163, 172-82 (D.C. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S. Ct. 1579 (2009).
We wonder if the “Brady Bunch” will be paying the defendants’ legal fees or of they’re just going to cut and run, leaving the individual plaintiffs holding the proverbial bag…
The full docket is located here.
H/T to CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman.