March 19, 2021

The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona issued a decision on March 11, 2021 granting a motion to dismiss pursuant to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) that Renzulli Law Firm had filed on behalf of a pistol manufacturer.
Plaintiff was shot and severely injured (paraplegia) while a passenger in a vehicle when a fourteen-year-old girl (“shooter”), who was also a passenger in the vehicle, shot him with a pistol.  Plaintiff claimed that the pistol was defectively designed because it did not have a magazine disconnect, a manual safety, an “effective” loaded chamber indicator, an integrated lock, and personalized “smart gun” technology.  Renzulli Law Firm filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims against the pistol’s manufacturer in their entirety on the basis that they constituted a qualified civil liability action prohibited by the PLCAA.  In addition to arguing that the PLCAA did not bar his claims, plaintiff argued that it was unconstitutional.
In a comprehensive and well-reasoned decision, Judge Brnovich granted the motion to dismiss pursuant to the PLCAA.  She concluded that plaintiff’s claims against the pistol manufacturer were a qualified civil liability action because he was seeking to recover damages from a firearms manufacturer arising from the criminal misuse of the firearm by a third party.  The court further held that only the product defect exception could potentially apply to plaintiff’s claims.  The court concluded, however, that the product defect exception did not apply because the discharge of the pistol was caused by a volitional act of the shooter that constituted a criminal offense, and was therefore deemed as a matter of law to be the sole proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries.  The court also rejected all of plaintiff’s challenges to the constitutionality of the PLCAA.
If you have any questions concerning the PLCAA, or the defense of firearms or ammunition claims, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.