Share This Page

Victim can sue gun maker, New York court rules

| Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 8:06 p.m.

BUFFALO — A former high school athlete who was shot in 2003 may sue the companies that made and distributed the handgun used in the crime under an appellate court ruling that gun control advocates said will keep irresponsible gun makers and sellers from taking advantage of a federal law shielding them from lawsuits.

The ruling by the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court reversed a lower court's 2011 dismissal of victim Daniel Williams' complaint, which accused Ohio gun maker Hi-Point and distributor MKS Supply Inc. of Ohio of intentionally supplying handguns to irresponsible dealers because they profited from sales to the criminal gun market.

The appellate panel said the Buffalo man's lawsuit should have been allowed to move forward because Williams' claims fall within exceptions contained in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 federal law shielding gun makers from lawsuits over criminal use of their products.

It is the first case in which a court has held that a gun manufacturer may be held liable under the PLCAA, according to the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which brought the appeal.

“If a gun company knows or has reason to know that a dealer or distributor that is selling the guns is doing so irresponsibly and in some cases, illegally, they need to do something about it,” Brady Center attorney Jonathan Lowy said on Monday.

Williams was 16 when he was shot by a gang member in a case of mistaken identity as he played basketball outside his home. The bullet fired into his stomach ended his hopes of a Division I college basketball career.

Attorneys for Williams argued the gun had ended up on the streets of Buffalo and in the hands of convicted shooter Cornell Caldwell through gun trafficker James Bostic.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.