March 21, 2024 – In 2019, an employee of a company in California shot and killed another employee using a semi-automatic pistol manufactured by one of RLF’s clients. The family of the victim sued the shooter, the employer, and the manufacturer of the pistol. RLF immediately moved to dismiss the case based on the federal immunity law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”). However, in the Complaint, the family claimed that the manufacturer’s “agent” illegally supplied the shooter, a prohibited person, with a firearm. In addition, plaintiffs claimed that the pistol “was designed as a highly specialized military/paramilitary weapon, with the specific intent of allowing ease and ability with respect to its concealment, speed of use, deployment, firepower and deadliness … [and] borne out of the exigencies of modern combat and urban, close range law enforcement use … [the pistol] was engineered to deliver maximum carnage with covert concealability and extreme speed and killing efficiency, inexpensively.” Plaintiffs then claimed that this pistol should not be sold to the general public, but only to highly trained military and police forces. Given these allegations, as absurd as they were, and the California state courts’ general reluctance to dismiss cases prior to allowing discovery, the court denied the motion finding that plaintiffs alleged that the manufacturer was in violation of one or more state or federal laws regarding the sale of firearms, and therefore, they had adequately alleged an exception to the PLCAA.

While the case should have been immediately dismissed against RLF’s client, RLF was not deterred, and we immediately sought third-party discovery to affirmatively prove plaintiffs’ case lacked merit.  Through the aggressive use of subpoenas to uncover all of the criminal investigation information and documentation related to the shooting, RLF was able to definitely and unequivocally show that the subject pistol was not only on California’s approved firearms roster, but also that it was originally sold with a California legal ten round magazine, and that a ten round magazine was used in the shooting. Third party discovery also showed that the pistol was legally sold by a California dealer to a resident of California, it changed hands multiple times prior to coming into possession of the shooter, and it was illegally sold to the shooter by a drug dealer on a street corner in Los Angeles years after it was originally sold by the manufacturer.

Faced with this insurmountable evidence confirming the manufacturer did not violate any laws related to the sale or marketing of firearms, and under threat of a motion for sanctions for maintaining a frivolous lawsuit, plaintiffs’ counsel finally acquiesced and filed a request to the court seeking dismissal of all claims against the manufacturer with prejudice. RLF is committed to obtaining dismissals of frivolous and novel claims filed against its industry clients, and this case shows that aggressive discovery after motion practice fails is another way to achieve this goal.

Renzulli Law Firm will continue to defend industry clients against these frivolous lawsuits.  If you have any questions regarding a lawsuit filed against you or your company, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.