Washington, D.C. Municipal Lawsuit Dismissed
May 23, 2006
Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE:RGR) is pleased to announce that on May 22, 2006, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia granted the
defendants' motion to dismiss the city's case against various manufacturers, importers, and distributors of firearms, including Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
The case was brought under the Washington, D.C. "Strict Liability Act," alleging liability against the defendants based upon intentional criminal shootings within the District. However, in October of 2005, the U.S. Congress passed and the President signed "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" ("PLCAA"). It expressly prohibited liability of firearms manufacturers for such subsequent criminal misuses of their products. By its terms, this law requires dismissal of all such pending claims. The trial court found "that plaintiffs causes of action under the Strict Liability Act fall squarely within the PLCAA's definition," and ordered that defendants' motion on the pleadings to dismiss the case be granted. It also held the PLCAA to be constitutional in all respects. It is unknown at this time if the District will attempt an appeal.
"This is the latest in a long series of victories for the rule of law, fundamental fairness, and individual responsibility," said Sturm, Ruger President Stephen L. Sanetti. "Our Company sells its legal products solely to independent federally-licensed wholesale distributors in complete accord with the many regulations imposed by law, and sells none of its products within the District of Columbia. Furthermore, we believe that none of our products were involved in any of the criminal shootings upon which this case was based. The trial court's excellently reasoned opinion buttresses what has become sound, uniform case law. 'Regulation by litigation' of legitimate manufacturers, whether attempted by advocacy groups who don't approve of certain lawful products or by individual plaintiffs who have been egregiously harmed by violent criminals over which we have no control, has no place in our judicial system," he concluded.
"Congress has made clear that manufacturers or sellers of firearms and ammunition products that have been shipped or transported in interstate commerce are not, and should not, be liable for harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearms products or ammunition products that design and function as intended... The imposition of such liability, according to Congress "is an abuse of the legal system, erodes public confidence in our nation's laws... invites the disassembly and destabilization of other industries and economic sectors lawfully competing in the free enterprise system... and constitutes an unreasonable burden on interstate and foreign commerce of the United States." (opinion at p.13, citing 15 U.S.C. § 7901 (A) and (B))
"The Court agrees," the opinion continued, that "the clear purpose of the PLCAA was to shield firearms manufacturers and dealers from liability for injuries caused by third parties using non- defective... firearms." The court also went on to find the PLCAA to be constitutional, agreeing with all courts which have considered the question to date.
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