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A gun manufacturer is being sued for injuries to a shooting victim.
New Yorker Daniel Williams was shot nearly a decade ago. In an unusual lawsuit, he then sued Ohio-based gun manufacturer Beemiller, distributor MKS Supply, and the dealer of the pistol used to shoot him.
Lawsuits against gun manufacturers and distributors are relatively rare because there's a federal law that insulates them from such liability, reports Reuters. However, a New York appeals court overturned an earlier decision and allowed Williams to go ahead with his lawsuit.
In his lawsuit, Williams claims that Beemiller and MKS Supply knowingly supplied the guns to an irresponsible dealer. In turn, the dealer allegedly sold the handgun used to shoot Williams to a convicted felon who was barred from purchasing guns.
Generally, the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) provides that gun manufacturers, distributors, and dealers cannot be sued for criminal use of their products. This law is in place because otherwise these groups could potentially be sued every time someone is shot.
However, just because the PLCAA provides some general protections to gun makers and dealers from criminal use, this law does not preclude all civil liability. For example, there are six exceptions from the law that would allow for civil liability. One exception is knowingly violating the law which directly leads to someone's injuries, as Williams claimed, reports Reuters.
The New York appeals court agreed with Williams and found that an exception to the PLCAA applied and cleared the way for Williams to bring a lawsuit, reports Reuters.
But while the appeals court ruled in Williams favor, this does not guarantee that the shooting victim will actually collect damages for his injuries. Williams will still have to prove that Beemiller and MKS Supply knew that the dealer was irresponsible. And Williams would also have to prove that this sale directly led to his injuries.