Uvalde special education staff member seeks to depose gunsmith for possible trial
A speech pathology clerk who went into hiding during the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, has filed a lawsuit against gunsmith Daniel Defense.
This is the first reported legal action following the mass shooting, which killed 21 children and two adults. Although not a full-fledged lawsuit, the filing seeks to determine whether the gun maker can be sued for the way it promotes firearms.
“They’re marketing to people who it’s not reasonable for them to have guns…and we think that may be young people,” attorney Don Flanary said.
The shooter was 18 years old and had legally purchased the weapons and ammunition used in the murder.
In court papers filed Thursday in the 38th Judicial District, Clerk Emilia “Amy” Marin, 56, asked the court to compel the company to sit for a deposition, as well as produce documents related to its site. Web, its profits, its lobbying, sale and marketing of AR-15 type rifles like the one used during the filming.
In Texas, parties can begin gathering evidence before filing a lawsuit under Rule 202. The filing, called a pre-suit deposition, can be used to compel testimony that will be used in anticipated legal action or to investigate a potential claim or lawsuit.
Marin’s petition also requests information regarding the four Daniel Defense AR-15 style rifles found in the shooter’s Las Vegas hotel room in 2017. His attorney says they want to look into whether the gun maker did something different about his marketing after his guns were used for this crime.
Daniel Defensebased in Georgia, made one of two AR-15 style assault rifles bought by 18-year-old Salvador Ramos before he attacked the Uvalde school.
Ramos shared a screenshot of the receipt for the gun, which he bought online, with people he was friends with on Instagram, according to the daily item.
The gunsmith has not yet responded to a request for comment on the case. Its website acknowledges the tragedy and says it will cooperate with federal, state and local investigators regarding the shooting. “We will keep the families of the victims and the entire community of Uvalde in our thoughts and prayers,” the statement said.
Marin, but not named, reportedly opened a back door, allowing the shooter to enter the school. The Texas Department of Public Safety walked back the news after Flanary, the attorney, shared her version of what happened with the San Antonio Express-News. School video footage showed Marin closing the door behind heraccording to DPS.
While it is painful to be falsely blamed, Flanary said Marin ultimately seeks justice from those who encouraged the attack, not those who responded to it.
“Prosecuting the police who made a mistake is not going to prevent this from happening in other places,” he says. “She feels like if we go in this direction, we can make a change.”
Through his attorney, Marin declined to speak directly about his experience or the lawsuit. Flanary says she received medical treatment for her psychological trauma.
Inspired by the Sandy Hook Trial
A lawsuit filed by parents of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is the model for this and other ongoing lawsuits against gunsmiths. But experts say the chances of success in Texas can be long.
Under the Lawful Arms Trade Protection Act 2005 (PLCAA), gun manufacturers cannot be held liable for “the misuse of firearms by third parties, including criminals”.
That law protected manufacturers so well that after that “litigation really slowed down,” said Timothy Lytton, a distinguished university professor at the Georgia State University College of Law.
But it allows certain exceptions to this immunity.
Rather than seeking damages for the deaths themselves, plaintiffs in the Sandy Hook lawsuit have instead taken aim at how Remington, the maker of the weapon used in that attack, advertised its firearms .
“What they argued in Sandy Hook was that the company’s marketing practices were designed to attract those at high risk of criminal misuse of the weapon,” Lytton said. . Court documents filed by the Sandy Hook families accused Remington of promoting a “lone shooter” narrative by selling civilian customers military-grade weapons designed to outwit any opposition they may face.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a case against the manufacturer could be pursued under the state’s unfair trade practices law, and the United States Supreme Court declined to intervene.
Earlier this year, Remington’s insurers settled civil suit for $73 million. The company is currently in bankruptcy proceedings.
A victim of the Brooklyn subway shooting in April has sued gunsmith Glock under a similar pretext.
According The New York Times.
The day Ramos bought a gun from the company, Daniel Defense posted a photo on Twitter of a young child cradling an assault rifle.
However, it’s unclear whether a lawsuit against the manufacturer would have the same success in Texas as the Sandy Hook families in Connecticut.
For one thing, the main consumer protection law in the state of Texas does not have the same general language as that of Connecticut. Lytton said Texas courts also might not be as supportive of the lawsuit as those in Connecticut.
“We are realistic about our path forward,” Flanary says. At the same time, he adds, “things are changing and you have to put the pressure on”.
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