ILNews

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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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