Daniel v. Armslist
An Internet gun marketplace enabled a man prohibited from purchasing a firearm due to his history of domestic violence to obtain a handgun through a private seller. The day after the handgun was purchased it was used to murder his wife, two others, and injure four people. Brady sued Armslist for negligently creating an online platform for prohibited purchasers to illegally obtain firearms.
Armslist.com, the largest private online firearms marketplace, facilitated the sale of a semi-automatic handgun through a private seller to a violent domestic violence abuser, who was prohibited from acquiring a firearm.
Zina Daniel Haughton was a victim of her husband’s domestic abuse for 10 years. In 2012 she asked the court to issue a restraining order against her husband, Radcliffe Haughton. The Wisconsin court granted her request for a restraining order and prohibited her husband from purchasing a firearm, as he was a clear threat to her safety. Despite this fact, Radcliffe Haughton was able to search for handguns on Armslist.com, contact a buyer he found there, and purchase a semi-automatic handgun. With this handgun, the next day, on October 21, 2012 Radcliffe Haughton, walked into his wife’s workplace, Azana Spa and Salon, and murdered his wife and two of her co-workers, as well as injuring four others.
The tragedy at the Azana Spa and Salon occurred because Armslist.com provided a platform to facilitate the illegal transfer of firearms to criminals and prohibited purchasers. Guns sold through Armslist have been tied to several other previous crimes, including at least one other murder. The complaint alleges that Armslist entered the online gun business after CraigsList, Amazon and other websites stopped allowing guns sales because they were concerned that prohibited people would obtain them, and that Armslist.com facilitated and enabled the sale of firearms to dangerous and prohibited purchasers through its website.
On behalf of Zina Daniel Haughton’s daughter, Yasmeen Daniel, Brady filed suit with Manatt, Phelps, & Phillips, LLP, and local counsel Cannon & Dunphy against Armslist, alleging that the website negligently enabled the sale of the handgun to Radcliffe Haughton, a prohibited purchaser, resulting in the multiple lives lost at the Azana Spa and Salon. In the fight to hold Armslist accountable, Brady won a landmark victory in April of 2018 when the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin held that Armslist can be held liable for negligently facilitating illegal gun purchases through it’s website. This decision sets an important precedent for private online gun sales.
Armslist appealed the Court of Appeals decision and the case is now before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Oral Arguments were heard on February 14, 2019, and we are awaiting a decision.