Jefferson v. Sauers

Case Status: Closed

Victory in Holding Gun Dealer Accountable and Settlement for Mother Whose Son Was Killed with Trafficked Gun


On April 19, 1999, seven-year-old Nafis Jefferson was riding his bike near his home in South Philadelphia. Other children playing along the same street found a .44 caliber revolver, Rossi model 720, lying under an abandoned car. One of the children picked up the gun and fired it, killing Nafis hours later in the hospital.


The Brady legal team filed suit on April 18, 2001, on behalf of Nafis Jefferson’s mother, Tennille Jefferson. The suit was filed against the gun manufacturer. It alleged that the Rossi revolver was defectively designed because it lacked safety features that would have prevented a child from firing it. Gun manufacturers like Rossi have failed to incorporate such safety features into guns even though they are technologically feasible, the need for them is well known, and the risks of not including them are severe and highly foreseeable.

The suit also brought charges against the gun dealer, Sauers Trading, for negligently distributing the revolver to an illegal gun trafficker. The Rossi revolver was one of at least 10 guns that Sauers Trading sold to Perry Bruce, an illegal drug user engaging in an illegal gun trafficking business supplying weapons to convicted criminals, drug users and dealers, and others with criminal intent who could not purchase guns legally.

Several months after buying the Rossi revolver and illegally re-selling it or trading it for drugs, Bruce was arrested for violating federal gun laws, and he was eventually sentenced to 46 months imprisonment for illegally trafficking guns including the Rossi revolver. At least a dozen of the guns trafficked by Bruce have been recovered after being used in crimes.

After three years of litigation in which Sauers’ multiple attempts to dismiss the case were rejected by the court, Sauers agreed to a confidential monetary settlement with Tennille Jefferson on August 20, 2004. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported a settlement amount of $850,000. With this case, Brady made illegal gun sales Sauers’ business known, and put dealers everywhere on notice that selling guns to criminals has consequences. Attorney Mark LeWinter, then of Anapol, Schwartz, Weiss, Cohan, Feldman and Smalley P.C., was co-counsel with the Brady legal team for Tennille Jefferson.

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