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Brady Center Files Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturer and Dealer For Parents of Boy Killed in Unintentional Shooting

Lawsuit Alleges Gun Did Not Include Safety Feature That Would Have Prevented Shooting

Pittsburgh, Pa., March 19, 2018 — The parents of 13-year old J.R. Gustafson brought suit today against Springfield Arms and Saloom Department Store in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, outside Pittsburgh. J.R. was killed on March 20, 2016 in an unintentional shooting by a boy who thought the gun was unloaded after the gun's magazine had been removed. The lawsuit alleges that the gun should have included safety features that would have prevented the shooting, and J.R.'s death.

The complaint alleges that Springfield Arms, the manufacturer of the gun, failed to include several feasible safety features that would have prevented J.R.'s shooting. For one, magazine disconnect safeties were invented over 100 years ago to prevent precisely this type of incident by disabling the gun when the magazine is removed. A magazine disconnect, as well as other feasible safety features such as an internal lock or loaded chamber indicator, would have prevented the shooting. Because firearms are the only consumer product exempt from federal product safety regulations, these life-saving features were not required, but the complaint alleges that they should have been included in the gun. The law firm of Carlson Lynch in Pittsburgh and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed the suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Jonathan Lowy, Brady Center's Vice President, Litigation, and co-counsel for the plaintiffs, stated, "This case is about the obligation of any product manufacturer to make their products as safe as possible to prevent injury or death. The gun industry has known for over a century that many children, as well as adults, are killed with guns that people mistakenly believe are unloaded, and the industry has known that there are simple, inexpensive safety features that could prevent these deaths. Although Congress has unfortunately exempted guns from consumer safety regulation that would require these safety features, products liability law still holds gun companies accountable when they choose to make and sell guns that are unreasonably dangerous."

Gary Lynch, Partner at Carlson Lynch, and co-counsel for the plaintiffs, stated: "The gun involved in this tragedy could easily have been designed to prevent the unintended discharge of a bullet. Guns are the most dangerous products sold in America. It is imperative that they be designed in a way which ensures they will not be mistakenly fired, especially by children. Because of the gun's defects in this regard, a little boy has been needlessly killed."

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is dedicated to reducing gun injuries and deaths in America by stemming the causes of gun violence. The Brady Center works in the courts to reform dangerous and reckless gun industry practices that give criminals and dangerous people access to guns. For over 25 years, Brady has brought lawsuits across the country against irresponsible gun companies on behalf of victims of gun violence, and has won numerous victories, including court decisions and settlements in Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Brady Center won landmark rulings in the Supreme Courts of Kansas and Missouri holding that gun dealers may be liable for shootings using negligently sold guns.

Carlson Lynch is a national consumer protection and workplace fairness law firm with offices in Pittsburgh and San Diego. The firm focuses its practice on complex litigation, and has obtained significant recoveries on behalf of plaintiffs in various types of consumer protection litigation. Carlson Lynch represents both individual consumers and classes of consumers and has been responsible not only for substantial monetary recoveries for its clients, but also for the development of seminal legal authority in various areas of consumer protection law.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in the common sense. In the spirit of our founders Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 25 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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