While some states have pushed legislation designed to evade federal law to hold firearms manufacturers and sellers liable for rising violent crime perpetrated by third parties, Tennessee has taken steps to bolster protection for the firearms industry against such lawsuits. Governor Bill Lee recently signed TN Senate Bill 0822 into law which is similar to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) – the federal statute which provides industry members with immunity from lawsuits based upon “criminal or unlawful misuse” of firearms, ammunition, and component parts. While the Tennessee statute provides broader protection than the PLCAA, it only applies to manufacturers and sellers located in the state.
In particular, the Tennessee statute, codified as TN Code § 29-42-101, prohibits individuals from bringing a “qualified civil liability action” against manufacturers headquartered and doing business in Tennessee, as well as dealers in the state. A “qualified civil liability action” is defined as lawsuits and other actions that seek damages or other relief “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm, ammunition, or component of either a firearm or ammunition by a third party. The statute provides several exceptions allowing lawsuits where an individual was injured by a defective firearm or ammunition, where a manufacturer or seller was directly involved in the crime perpetrated by the third party, or where a manufacturer or seller made a documented misrepresentation about the product in a way that created a risk of harm and the harm actually occurred without any intent by the third party.
Tennessee joins a growing number of states that have taken steps to prohibit these types of lawsuits which seem to have become more prevalent since the Biden Administration came into office. Such statutes serve as a model and are critically important to counter measures taken by anti-gun politicians who would like to shift blame to the firearms industry for the actions of criminals. Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor new and developing firearms legislation and regulation around the country. If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation or regulations, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.