Boston v. Smith & Wesson
In the early 2000s, Boston experienced a significant increase in violence perpetrated with firearms. Boston, with the help of Brady, began litigation against the gun industry to address this gun violence problem. While Boston decided to drop its case to form a cooperative partnership in lieu of litigation, the litigation raised the nation’s consciousness about gun safety, safe handling and storage of firearms, and efforts to prevent the criminal acquisition and misuse of guns.
Before the conclusion of litigation, Brady was able to create precedent to help Massachusetts cities fight the gun violence epidemic. In response to the city’s complaint, the gun industry defendants filed a motion to dismiss.
The industry raised several procedural arguments: that the issue was too “remote” to prove liability; that municipalities cannot recover the costs of providing public services; that recovery was barred by an economic loss rule that prohibits recovery in negligence for purely economic loss; that Boston improperly aggregated claims; and that certain constitutional provisions barred the suit. The Boston trial court sided with Boston and Brady, holding that none of these procedural obstacles barred the city’s recovery because of the uniqueness of the allegations, which were neither discrete nor of the sort a municipality could reasonably expect.
The defendants also moved to dismiss each of Boson and Brady’s six substantive claims: public nuisance; negligent distribution and marketing; defective design; failure to warn; negligence; and unjust enrichment. The court denied each of these motions except the one alleging negligent distribution and marketing. Thus, thanks to Brady’s advocacy, Massachusetts municipalities have a pathway to recovery against gun industry members for the violence their actions facilitate.