June 28, 2023 – Renzulli Law Firm recently secured a complete dismissal of a product liability case on behalf of a firearm manufacturer.  Plaintiff was aware there was an unsecured, loaded semi-automatic pistol in a vehicle while he, another adult, and several juveniles were returning home after an organization sponsored activity.  When the adult owner of the pistol left the vehicle, plaintiff took the pistol, removed the magazine and handed it to a juvenile sitting in the seat behind him. Plaintiff forgot to remove the chambered round, and the juvenile, believing the pistol was unloaded, pointed it at the seat in which plaintiff was sitting and intentionally pulled the trigger.  Plaintiff was shot in the back and rendered a paraplegic.
Plaintiff sued the foreign manufacturer and US importer/assembler of the pistol, raising design defect and failure to warn claims.  Renzulli Law Firm obtained an early dismissal of plaintiff’s claims against the US importer/assembler of the pistol based on the immunity provided by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”).  As a result of certain limitations on the scope of the PLCAA, discovery proceeded against the foreign manufacturer. During preliminary discovery, it was learned that plaintiff had entered into a settlement agreement with the organization that sponsored the activity from which plaintiff was being driven home when he was shot.  Plaintiff had concealed the existence of his claim against, and settlement with, that organization. The court granted the manufacturer’s motion to compel plaintiff to produce a copy of the settlement agreement, which included broadly worded release language.
Renzulli Law Firm was able to obtain summary judgment for the firearm manufacturer on the basis that plaintiff’s settlement agreement with the organization provided him with full compensation for his injuries in exchange for a broad release of liability against any persons or entities potentially responsible for those injuries.  This strategy of an early motion to dismiss, followed by aggressive discovery and an early motion for summary judgment, brought about the dismissal of the case without the need to engage in protracted discovery and resulted in an early dismissal of the case.
If you have any questions regarding the defense of product liability cases against the firearms industry, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.