Learn more about Peltz-Steele v. UMass Faculty Federation at Court Listener (complaint) and the Liberty Justice Center. The case is now on appeal in the First Circuit as no. 22-1466 (PACER paywall). Please direct media inquiries to Kristen Williamson.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

State AGs back Mexico in suit against gun makers

Houston gun show in 2007 (M&R Glasgow CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)
In a pattern that has become familiar, the mass shooting in Uvalde causes us to check in on the various irons in the fire on gun liabilities.

The from-right-field lawsuit that most piqued my interest in the last year was that filed by the government of Mexico against American gun manufacturers over deaths in Mexico, Estados Unidos Mexicanos v. Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. (D. Mass. filed Aug. 4, 2021). In the culmination of a 139-page complaint, Mexico articulates causes including negligence, product liability, and nuisance.

The lawsuit is presently in briefing on defendants' motion to dismiss.

Especially interesting are Mexico's counts seven and eight, arising respectively under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and the famously broad Massachusetts consumer protection law, chapter 93A. It was under the Connecticut law, as a claim over marketing, that courts allowed the Sandy Hook plaintiffs to work around the personal injury liability bar of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCAA).

Though to be clear, Mexico's starting position is that the PLCAA doesn't apply anyway extraterritorially. In February, 14 state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, briefed the district court on their agreement with that position (CNN), seeking to expose the gun-maker defendants to liability.

Gun maker Smith & Wesson, the named defendant in the case, was based in Springfield, Massachusetts, since 1852. In September 2021, Smith & Wesson announced plans to leave Massachusetts, amid pending legislation to limit the manufacture of assault weapons, for the friendlier venue of Tennessee (WCVB).

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