Kahr Arms Inc., a Worcester, Mass. arms manufacturer, has agreed to pay nearly $600,000 to the families of two people shot — one of them fatally — by a pistol stolen from the Defendant’s gun plant and sold twice for drugs. The settlement proceeds will go to the family of Danny Guzman, 26, who was shot to death on Christmas Eve in 1999 and to Armondo Maisonet, who also was shot, but survived. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Legal Action Project served as co-counsel on the suit.
This is the largest damages payment ever by a gun manufacturer charged with negligence resulting in the criminal use of a gun, according to the Brady Center. Officials with the Center noted the arms manufacturer in this case agreed to the payment despite the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This was the legislation, signed into federal law by President George W. Bush in October 2005, that was designed to protect arms makers from civil suits over the use of their products. The law would apply even in cases arising before the law was passed.
Once the law was passed, the Defendants moved to have the case dismissed in Worcester Superior Court. The U.S. Justice Department even agreed to the dismissal. But Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley signed a brief for the Plaintiffs saying the federal government had no right to interfere with the state’s jurisdiction to regulate public safety. However, because settlement talks between the parties were under way, there was never a ruling on these motions.
Hector Pineiro and Robert H. Beadel, lawyers from Worcester, Mass., represented the Guzman estate (Guzman was described as an innocent bystander), and Maisonet, the intended target of the shooting. Daniel Vice, senior attorney of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and co-counsel in the case, stated:
This settlement sends a strong signal to gun manufacturers nationwide that they will pay the consequences for their misconduct if they operate without regard for public safety. There is much more that gun companies can and must do to prevent the supply of guns to criminals.
The suit filed in 2002 alleged that Mark Cronin, a drug-addicted employee of Kahr Arms with a criminal record, smuggled parts of guns out of the plant before they were stamped with serial numbers. Cronin then assembled the gun and traded it for cocaine. Brady Center Acting President Dennis Henigan had this to say:
As we witnessed this past weekend in Norway and across the United States, one gun in the wrong hands can do families, communities, and a nation irreparable harm. Thankfully, the courts have ruled repeatedly that victims in these cases have the right to a remedy.
The person who received the gun from Cronin traded it to another person for heroin. Cronin was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for the theft of the 9 mm pistol used in the shooting, as well as of a .40 caliber semiautomatic that he also took from the plant. It should be noted that this manufacturer had lots of theft problems. Ten Kahr semiautomatic weapons shipped on Dec. 17, 1998, from the manufacturer never reached their destination.
A Kahr Arms official estimated that in the year prior to February 8, 1999, there were about 15 or 16 shipments of weapons that never arrived at the intended destinations. At the time of the thefts, Kahr Arms had “virtually no security system to prevent employees from stealing weapons.” It failed to use surveillance systems or metal detectors like other gun manufacturers do. The company has since taken steps to remedy its security problems. Regardless of how we feel about gun control laws, I believe we have to admit there must be a limit to the protection afforded companies like Kahr Arms. The lawyers who handled this case did a very good job.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.