Appeals court to hear Gary gun suit

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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A Lake County negligence and public nuisance suit against gun manufacturers and distributors is making its way to the Indiana Court of Appeals for the second time.

On Monday morning, a panel of Judges John Sharpnack, Ezra Friedlander, and Patricia Riley will consider Smith and Wesson Corporation, et al. v. Town of Gary, et al., 45A05-0612-CV-754. The 10 a.m. arguments will be in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom.

Gary city officials sued in 1999 alleging that handgun manufacturers negligently designed and distributed the weapons and created a public nuisance by failing to take steps to prevent criminals from obtaining and misusing the products. Eleven manufacturers, one wholesaler, and five retailers were named as defendants.

The trial court dismissed the suit but was later reversed by the appellate courts, which remanded it to the trial level in late 2003. A new twist surfaced in 2005 after President George W. Bush signed the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to prevent firearm-makers and dealers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products.

A different trial judge ruled in October 2006 that the federal law is unconstitutional and denied the dismissal request, holding that the statute would deprive the city of its right of due process and violated the separation of powers.

"Our Supreme Court has long recognized laws that are applied retroactively and ... serve as a deprivation of our existing rights are particularly unsuited to a democracy such as ours," Lake Superior Judge Robert Pete wrote.Now, on appeal, the city argues the federal law is unconstitutional and doesn't provide a basis to dismiss the case, while the U.S. argues as an intervenor that the law is constitutional.

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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.