Gun Not Guilty


In November, a jury held a gun distributor (since the manufacturer no longer existed) 5 percent responsible for the fact that 12-year-old Nathanial Brazill used a gun it sold to murder schoolteacher Barry Grunow. Now, the judge in the case has overturned the jury verdict. Here's how the Miami Herald story explained it:
The $1.2 million jury award, while small by the standards of product liability lawsuits, had been savored by gun-control advocates because it represented a new avenue to attack the industry. Pam Grunow's attorney, Bob Montgomery, had led Florida's successful fight against Big Tobacco and has made no secret that he wants to similarly cripple the gun industry.

He labeled the small, cheap handgun used to kill Grunow a "Saturday Night Special," claiming its only appeal was killing on the cheap. Jurors in this case agreed only in part, holding Valor Corp. 5 percent responsible for Grunow's death. Raven Corp., the gun's manufacturer, is out of business and was not named in the suit.
Labarga said the jury's November verdict contradicted itself.

On the one hand, jurors faulted Valor for supplying a gun without "feasible safety measures." But on the same verdict form, jurors said the gun itself—a small, cheap .25-caliber weapon easily clasped by a 12-year-old—was not defective or lacking in reasonable safety measures.

That, Labarga wrote, "rendered the verdict fatally inconsistent."

Grunow's attorney will now ask an appeals court to either reinstate the jury award or to grant a new trial.

Reason contributor David Kopel wrote about the original verdict and its significance here.