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Superior Court Judge Rules in Favor of Victims of Synagogue Mass Shooting In Brady Legal Lawsuit, Allows Case Against Assault Weapon Manufacturer and Seller to Move Forward

A California court dismissed claims by Smith & Wesson and San Diego Guns that they are shielded from accountability for the Poway Synagogue mass shooting.

Washington, D.C., July 7, 2021 - Today, Judge Kenneth J. Medel of the Superior Court of California for San Diego County denied Smith & Wesson and San Diego Guns, LLC.’s, motion to dismiss a suit seeking monetary relief and an injunction demanding that all parties reform their business practices on behalf of the families and victims of the 2019 mass shooting at Chabad of Poway Synagogue. Judge Medel dismissed Smith & Wesson and San Diego Guns’ claim that they are shielded from this litigation by the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), ruling in favor of the plaintiffs and allowing the suit to move forward. Jonathan Lowy of Brady Legal and Donna Vobornik of Dentons argued against the motion for the plaintiffs. Judge Medel’s decision comes even as the U.S. Department of Justice filed a last-minute brief in support of the defendants and defending PLCAA in this case. Anne Waddell and Taylor Koshak of Dentons and Erin Davis and Robert Cross of Brady also represent the plaintiffs.


Brady Chief Counsel and Vice President of LegalJonathan Lowy explained:

“Today’s judgement is a victory, and an important step on the road to justice for the victims of the shooting at Chabad of Poway Synagogue, and all Americans who believe that the gun industry is not above the law. We look forward to proving our case in court, and working to prevent future tragedies.”

The suit alleges that Smith & Wesson’s rifle could be easily modified into an assault weapon in violation of California law or to fire automatically, and was marketed in violation of California’s unfair business practices law, in a manner attractive to customers like the shooter, young men predisposed to violence. Similar claims against Remington Arms Co. were upheld in a lawsuit brought by victims of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

The suit also alleges that San Diego Guns, the dealer that sold the weapon used in this crime, violated California law by transferring the weapon to the shooter although he was underage and did not present a California hunting license that was in effect.

About the Complaint:

Filed in June 2020, the complaint alleges that Smith & Wesson negligently designed and unlawfully marketed the rifle. The complaint also alleges that the dealer violated California law which prohibited transferring the Shooter the weapon due to his age unless he presented a valid California hunting license. The Complaint alleges that the Shooter presented a California hunting license which was not yet in effect. The complaint also includes claims for which Neil Gilmor from the Law firm Artiano Shinoff and the Law Offices of Sheldon A. Ostroff are representing the plaintiffs for negligent or intentional torts against the State of California, the shooter and the shooter’s family.


About the 2019 Mass Shooting in Chabad of Poway Synagogue:

On April 27, 2019, a 19-year-old man, specifically targeting the Jewish community, fired his Smith & Wesson M&P 15 AR-15 style semi-automatic assault rifle in the Chabad of Poway synagogue, where worshippers were celebrating Passover services. After killing one congregant, shooting the rabbi and wounding others, the shooter was confronted by members of the congregation, causing him to flee. After calling the police and admitting to committing a hate crime, the shooter was apprehended by San Diego Police.

About Brady Legal:

Brady has represented victims of gun industry negligence for over 30 years, and has won over $60 million in settlements and verdicts in cases brought by Brady for victims and survivors. Brady also has won landmark precedents holding that gun companies can be held legally responsible for the damage caused by their irresponsible business practices and has forced gun dealers and manufacturers to reform their practices to prevent sales of guns to dangerous people. Brady has litigated in over 40 states, and won victories in the Supreme Courts of Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Alaska, and appellate and trial courts in California, Florida, Mississippi, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and other states.

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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 common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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