The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has joined Las Vegas law firm Eglet Price in a class-action lawsuit against Slide Fire Solutions, LP, alleging the company "negligently" manufactured and marketed their "device" that "enabled the killer to turn the country music festival into a war zone."
Mass murderer Stephen Paddock used several of the slide fire stocks on his rifles to commit the nation's deadliest mass shooting on October 1, killing 58 and injuring nearly 500 when he opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
The Brady Center says the suit is on behalf of "all persons who tragically suffered emotional distress as a result of the shooting" and alleges the shooting wouldn't have been possible "with a conventional handgun, rifle, or shotgun, of the kind used by responsible gun owners for hunting or self-defense."
That's right, the lawsuit goes out of its way to make it clear there is no claim of any sort implied against other gun owners. In fact, it says "This lawsuit does not in any way challenge the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms. This lawsuit also does not challenge in any way the right of responsible companies to operate a business of selling guns or lawful accessories to law-abiding citizens."
In case you haven't noticed by now, this lawsuit isn't typical strident anti-gun rhetoric. And that's only a portion of what's so concerning about this lawsuit. The stock in question, according to the suit, was "intended to assist 'persons whose hands have limited mobility' in order to be allowed to sell the product under federal law."
It then uses statements made by Jeremiah Cottle ("Slide Fire's inventor of the bump stock" to refute that position- alleging that Cottle has stated the bump stock was "geared toward 'people like me' (who) love full auto."
It goes on to note that the plaintiffs and their attorneys are "unaware of any marketing, advertising, or materials by Slide Fire that support the claim that it was intended for people whose hands had limited mobility." Nor, they assert, have there been any efforts by Slide Fire (or anyone else in the industry) to ensure that the stocks would only be sold to persons whose hands had limited mobility.
In another assertion, the suit also says that "based on information and belief" the NRA's own gun range "does not allow the use of bump stocks."
This isn't a simple lawsuit, and it's certainly not one I can quickly summarize or make easy-to-understand in a single column. Seeing potential impact on the manufacturer isn't a reach, but that's where the suit begins, not ends.
It goes on to create a potential list of 100 "DOE defendants" (as in John Doe) -and that group include "all retailers of bump stocks or similar devices" including "sellers, retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and/or distributors, and/or marketers of bump stocks or similar slide fire devices."
That significantly broadens the focus of this class action suit. If successful, it could broaden to cover virtually any group that's ever sold a bump fire-type device- not just the dealers who sold the dozen or so stocks used in the shooting. In simple legal terms, the attorneys in the suit have broadened the search to a large group of pockets, not a single deep pocket (although they imply that Slide Fire has made "millions" through the sale of their stocks).
Having read more than a few class-action lawsuits in my tenure as a business reporter, it's very obvious this one wasn't written by amateurs. It's simple in its language, limited in its assertions, and far-reaching in its implications.
Like a simply written buy/sell agreement, it will be pretty difficult - and very expensive- to defeat. And the burden will be on the defendants, not the plaintiffs.
Resolution likely won't be reached any time soon- barring some sort of settlement - which seems unlikely given the depth of
But it could have a chilling effect on some of what I call "wink-wink" marketing the industry seems to have embraced. Slide fire stocks may have been sold to the ATF as an assistive device for people with limited mobility in their hands, but you'd be hard-pressed to see that anywhere in the marketplace.
It may also call into question other devices created for an assistive purpose, then misapplied (sometimes purposely) by purchasers. Despite the ATF holding the position that misuse of a device by an end-user doesn't make the manufacturer liable, the misapplication of one of those devices in the commission of a crime - especially one as heinous as this- might lead to a reexamination of that position- by the courts.
On a (hopefully) lighter note, we've not failed to notice today is Friday the 13th - and that strikes fear into the hearts of some.
The cause of the fear of the number 13 and the day ranges from the fact there were 13 people at the Last Supper or 13 steps on the gallows ("12 up and one down"), and the fact (one of the few) that the mass arrest and execution of the Knights Templar began on Friday, October 13, 1307, respectively. If Friday the thirteenth gives you the willies instead of the urge to watch a Jamie Lee Curtis movie, you suffer from triskaidekaphobia - a big word for a small superstition.