On Friday, September 30, 2022, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a decisiondismissing Mexico’s lawsuit against the firearms industry in its entirety.
Mexico had filed a complaint against seven firearms manufacturers and one firearms distributor on August 4, 2021, claiming that they supply a large majority of the illegal firearms used to commit crimes in Mexico. Mexico sought “up to $10 billion” in damages. All of the defendants (including a manufacturer represented by Renzulli Law Firm) responded to the lawsuit with motions to dismiss.
Mexico’s misguided and legally insufficient complaint claimed that the defendants had “actual” knowledge of how their firearms were being illegally smuggled across the border. Mexico claimed these manufacturers could thus reduce the number of firearms illegally flowing into Mexico by putting in place undefined sales restrictions and distribution protocols. These allegations rehashed old arguments that many U.S. municipalities tried to assert against the firearm industry more than 20 years ago.
In dismissing the case, Judge Saylor thoroughly outlined why the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) applies to the case and why it mandated immediate dismissal. He stated that  “the PLCAA unequivocally bars lawsuits seeking to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the acts of individuals using guns for their intended purpose.” Judge Saylor brushed aside Mexico’s claim that the PLCAA was inapplicable because it did not apply to harm caused by firearms outside of the U.S.  He noted that all of the allegations of wrongful conduct by the defendants occurred entirely within the borders of the U.S., and that Congress intended the PLCAA to regulate such domestic conduct. He also found that “if the PLCAA did not apply to the claims by Mexico, and this lawsuit were to succeed, there would be economic consequences within the United States, which would clearly undermine the intent of Congress.”
Judge Saylor faithfully applied the explicit language in the PLCAA to dismiss all of Mexico’s common law claims that did not fall within any enumerated exception applicable to manufacturers, including negligence, public nuisance, negligence per se, gross negligence, unjust enrichment and restitution, and punitive damages. He then found that the product defect exception did not apply because of the “exception to the exception” – if the discharge of an allegedly defective firearm is caused by a volitional criminal act, then the design-defect exception does not apply. Finally, the Court dismissed two specific claims relying upon general consumer protection statutes. He found that Mexico did not have standing to assert such a claim under the Connecticut based statute and it failed to allege any “false or misleading” statements that would qualify under the Massachusetts based statute. 
Mexico has already claimed it will appeal this decision to the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor firearm related litigation and events around the country.  If you have any questions concerning firearms related litigation, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.