Updates in Open Carry and Liability Cases in Today's FPC Daily 2A Legal Update


In today's FPC legal update, we have updates from a case challenging a police stop of an open carrier in West Virginia and a liability lawsuit in California.

Walker v. Donahoe

Issue: Open carry police stop

Court: Fourth Circuit

Action: Opinion

In this case, a 3-judge panel determined that a West Virginia police officer's decision to question someone open carrying an AR-15 was supported by reasonable suspicion, and therefore did not violate the carrier's rights. The court's reasons for the decision include that Walker "was walking toward and within a mile of Teays Valley Christian School," "was dressed to look like a soldier, in a black sleeveless shirt and camouflage pants," "was walking rather than driving," and that "the Parkland school shooting occurred just a week before Walker was stopped and detained..." Judge Richardson also wrote a one-sentence concurrence, saying "I would affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment based on the officer’s qualified immunity." Appeals from the 3-judge panel can go to an en banc panel (comprised of every judge on the court) or to the Supreme Court, although neither are obligated to take the case.

Goldstein v. Earnest

Issue: Liability

Court: California State Court

Action: Minute order

In this liability lawsuit, the plaintiffs sued Smith & Wesson (among other defendants) claiming that the sale and marketing of the company's M&P 15 rifles violate California and federal law. In last week's opinion on S&W's demurrer (which asked to have claims in the lawsuit dismissed in its early stages), the judge agreed to throw out the plaintiff's product liability and unlawful competition claims, but gave them 20 days "to allege an 'injury in fact'" in regards to the latter. The judge also allowed the claims for ordinary negligence and public nuisance to stay on the lawsuit, saying that they are covered by an exception to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The plaintiffs will now have an opportunity to amended their complaint to fix the issue the judge identified with one of their claims.