In April 2014, self-avowed Neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. shot and killed three people in an anti-Semitic attack at a Jewish community center and retirement community in Overland Park, Kansas. As a convicted felon, Miller was prohibited from owning or buying firearms, and investigators learned another man, John Mark Reidle, purchased the shotgun used in the shooting for Miller at a Walmart in Republic, Missouri four days prior.
Miller was eventually convicted of capital murder, attempted murder, and weapons charges and sentenced to death, while Reidle was sentenced to five years of probation for providing false information on a federal firearms form. But what about Walmart? It recently settled a lawsuit with the family of Terri LaManno, who was shot and killed outside the Village Shalom care center.
The families of the three victims all sued Walmart for being negligent in the "straw purchase," as well as operators of a gun store in Lebanon, Missouri, who sold Reidle a handgun at a gun show that Miller eventually also used in the shooting, claiming employees were negligent and "knew, had reason to know, or recklessly failed to know that Miller was not lawfully entitled to purchase or possess a firearm."
"Gun dealers, including Wal-Mart, owe a duty to use the highest standard of care to prevent the supply of firearms to those prohibited from possessing them," the lawsuits claimed. "Given the circumstances of the purchase, Wal-Mart should have taken affirmative steps to confirm that Miller was the actual purchaser and intended user of the Remington shotgun, and that the sale of the shotgun to Reidle, a straw buyer, was illegal."
Lawsuits following mass shootings can be tricky. Claims against gun manufacturers are often barred by statutes, and even suits filed against those responsible for safety at shooting sites have often failed. However, lawsuits filed against gun dealers, especially those who have not followed the proper protocol for background checks or sales, have had more success.
The terms of Walmart's settlement have not been disclosed, and it is unlikely that the megaretailer admitted any liability. Still, it may have provided some closure for the victim's family.