10 replies [Last post]
expatriate's picture
Offline
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3207
Murderer Not Responsible?

Check this out if you want your blood to boil. A teacher is shot and killed in a Florida school by a kid who stole a handgun from a family friend. How does the jury assess liability for the murder in the civil suit?

Gun owner: 50% responsible ($12 million)
School board: 45% responsible ($10.8 million)
Gun distributorship: 5% responsible ($1.2 million)
Kid that pulled the trigger: not responsible

http://www.cnn.com/2002/LAW/11/14/gun.trial.ap/index.html

This was the same lawyer at work that sued the tobacco companies. Not all the news is bad, though, if you pick the threads out of the media coverage:

1) The school board and gun owner aren't expected to pay because they weren't named as defendants in the suit -- the lawyer was suing the gun distributorship alone.

2) The original claim in the suit was for $76 million.

Both sides in the case are appealing. Why? Because the lawyer only got something like 1.5 percent of what he was after ($1.2M vs $76M). In terms of assessing liability, the jury issued a 95 percent rejection of his claim that the distributorship was responsible, and in terms of money it was a 98.5 percent rejection.

Of course, the bad news is that if a teenager breaks into your home, steals a gun, and shoots somebody, it's your fault.

[ This Message was edited by: expatriate on 2002-11-15 09:11 ]

bitmasher's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
Murderer Not Responsible?

Wow! Lot to say here and none of it good:

- Former tobacco hit lawyer now going after gun-distributor linked cases in civil court. sad

-School board responsible?? confused? So tax payers now will have to foot the bill, for the disgusting act? This is a bad precidence for a lot of schools that have been hit by unpreventable shooting sprees, even if the school in questions wasn't named in this particular suit.

-Gun owner responsible?? I suppose if somebody steals my unlocked car and runs over my neighbor I should reasonable expect to pay my neighbors wife $12 million dollars, because it was after all my car. What is the distinction between a gun and a car? Both are deadly when used improperly. Hell, I guess they don't even after to steal my car, what if I just lent it to somebody?

-The gun distributor is at least partially responsible because it made a product when improperly used by someone with intent to kill (was trying to scare the teacher, right.... eye roll), killed someone. So lets see, if I bludgeon somebody to death with a car seat, the car seat manufacture and those that sold the car seat are definitely somewhat responsible, because they made a car seat that could be used in a deadly manner. No matter that the manufacture didn't recommend that I go out and actually beat somebody over the head with it, just that it was possible... This bodes very bad for all manufactures of what could be construed as "pointy objects". Yes that includes q-tips.

[ This Message was edited by: bitmasher on 2002-11-17 00:31 ]

expatriate's picture
Offline
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3207
Murderer Not Responsible?

I think it boils down to one thing: Show Me the Money. Nathan Brazill was the one person in this case who didn't bring any money to the table -- he's in prison. However, other parties involved have insurance policies and such that can be milked.

Therein lies the explanation for victim sainthood and the end of personal accountability. Criminal courts continue to hold individuals accountable because, unlike civil court, there's no money involved. You can bet that if criminal courts began assessing monetary punishment, corporate crime would skyrocket and crimes by individuals would cease to exist.

The nation desperately needs tort reform, but unfortunately lawyers would write such legislation.

bitmasher's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
Murderer Not Responsible?

What kind of tort reform do you think would work in a case like this?

Perhaps a rule that says a civil case cannot be tried with new defendants if a criminal case has already found the guilty party?

I'm still trying to grasp how a school board could have any guilt in this at all... Since when did schools become required to check students for guns?

expatriate's picture
Offline
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3207
Murderer Not Responsible?

One starting point would be to prevent manufacturers from liability when their non-defective product is used illegally. This is the tack they're using to shut down lawsuits against gunmakers.

It seems to me that there should be a linkage between criminal and civil cases, such that criminal liability overrides civil liability.

Civil suits were the big push behind Democrat attacks on the Homeland Security bill. They tried to crow about "special interests" but the provisions were designed to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits for vaccine side effects. It's a statistical fact that if we vaccinate 250 million people for smallpox, hundreds will die from adverse reactions. In terms of percentages, that's ridiculously low. But in terms of class action suits, why would anyone want to manufacture the vaccine and take that kind of risk?

Offline
Joined: 11/02/2002
Posts: 130
Murderer Not Responsible?

Go back to the thread about is hunting really threatened by animal rights. Page 2, I see that two fellows were talking about the tobacco lawyers way back when. Who were those masked men?

[ This Message was edited by: bucknaked40 on 2002-11-22 15:23 ]

bitmasher's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
Murderer Not Responsible?

Quote:


One starting point would be to prevent manufacturers from liability when their non-defective product is used illegally.

I'm not even sure how the civil court system became so convoluted that you actually have to pay a lawyer to argue this point. It seems that judges should toss the case in the preliminary filing based on these grounds alone.

Here is another point to consider. Is a gun owner ever culpable when they leave a loaded gun easily accessible to a child? Check out this case currently going on in Colorado:

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/1807573/detail.html

Offline
Joined: 09/09/2002
Posts: 34
Murderer Not Responsible?

Change lawyers pay from a percentage to flat rate, and watch what happens!

In my opinion, it's not JUST the people or ignorant cases, it is money hungry lawyers out there studying the law, and finding loopholes, then either fabricating cases, or getting someone to work with them to fabricate them.

bitmasher's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
Murderer Not Responsible?

Your right Chuck, when you see class action lawyers making out with piles of loot and the defendants getting coupons for free services (whooppppeee!!), I have to wonder if the compensation system for lawyers isn't foobar.

expatriate's picture
Offline
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3207
Murderer Not Responsible?

On a happy note, I just read a couple days ago that the judge that presided over the Brazell case that started this thread recently threw out the decision.

The judge stated that since the jury acknowledged in one part of its decision that the firearm wasn't defective, they couldn't turn around and hold the distributor liable in the latter part of the verdict. Of course, it's being appealed.

bitmasher's picture
Offline
Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2973
Murderer Not Responsible?

Yeah I had heard that too, nice to see the Judge saw the common logic in this case. Hopefully it will be killed upon appeal too.

Related Forum Threads You Might Like

ThreadThread StarterRepliesLast Updated
Florida Hunting Leases for PigsHighflyer201/07/2007 09:39 am
WI conservation meetings are posted in the news paper!mr.mc54003/02/2009 15:55 pm
Attorney hunting.Deer Slayer009/04/2010 15:31 pm
Dinner for FiveBundy709/01/2010 07:06 am
Feral pigs in Wisconsinhareborneranger603/02/2013 09:52 am