A jury has ordered Badger Gun Shop to pay nearly $6 million in a lawsuit filed by two Milwaukee, Wis., police officers who were seriously wounded when shot by a gun purchased at the store. Jurors found that Badger Guns was negligent. The gun that was used to shoot Officers Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch was purchased by a straw buyer. That’s a person who buys a gun for another person who can’t legally purchase one. Officer Bryan Norberg and Officer Graham Kunisch, who is now retired, were shot by a man they stopped in 2009. Jurors awarded Norberg $1.5 million and Kunisch $3.6 million, and ordered the store to pay $730,000 in punitive damages.
The case has drawn attention because it could set gun law precedent if jurors find the gun shop owners can be held legally responsible for a crime committed with a weapon purchased at their store. Patrick Dunphy, who represented the Plaintiffs, told jurors there were several tipoffs that should have been sufficient to cancel the sale, including improperly marked forms and the behavior of the buyer, Jacob Collins, and the eventual recipient, Julius Burton, who was too young to buy the gun. Burton was with Collins when the purchase was made. Dunphy also said the shop failed to verify Collins’ identification at the time of the transfer.
More than 500 firearms recovered from crime scenes have been traced back to Badger Guns and Badger Outdoors, the store’s predecessor, making it the “No. 1 crime gun dealer in America,” according to a 2005 charging document from an unrelated case. A former federal agent has also said the shop had failed take necessary precautions to prevent straw purchases. The two officers were shot after they stopped Burton for riding his bike on the sidewalk in the summer of 2009. A bullet shattered eight of Norberg’s teeth, blew through his cheek and lodged into his shoulder.
While Kunish has remained on the force, he says his wounds have made his work difficult. The officer was struck several times, losing an eye and part of the frontal lobe of his brain. He says the wounds forced him to retire. Burton pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree attempted intentional homicide and is serving an 80-year sentence; Collins got a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to making a straw purchase for an underage buyer.
Source: Insurance Journal
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