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frivolous lawsuit

Sandy Hook Victims’ Families’ Lawsuit Dismissed Against Gun Maker

Recently, a Connecticut judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre against the gun manufacturer of the weapon used for the killings. Pursuant to a 2005 act signed into law by George W. Bush, the Protection of Lawful Commerce of Arms Act (PLCAA), the case was dismissed as the judge ruled the gun manufacturer could not be held liable. Under the PLCAA, a gun manufacturer or dealer cannot be held liable for how a gun is used if the gun was sold legally. The families of the victims based their lawsuit on a theory of negligent entrustment, which is one of the few exceptions to the PLCAA. Gun Manufacturers and Dealers Are Immune The PLCAA protects gun manufacturers and dealers from liability for how their guns are used so long as the sale of the weapon was lawful. In the Sandy Hook case, the shooter did not purchase the weapon, but rather obtained it from his mother, whom he killed. As such, making the argument that the dealer was negligent by entrusting the weapon to the killer just does not work as neither dealer, nor manufacturer, had any interaction with the actual killer. The judge in the matter also explained that the 2005 PLCAA intended to give gun dealers and manufacturers broad immunity. A Never-Ending Battle The attorney for the families has pledged to file an appeal and continue fighting. While the fight may seem futile, especially given the PLCAA broad protections for gun dealers and manufacturers, the attorneys and victims’ families believe very strongly that the gun manufacturer should be held liable. As part of their negligent entrustment theory, they claimed that the manufacturer and dealer were negligent by entrusting anyone with the weapon as it is designed to kill people. The manufacturer denies that claim, and convinced a court that the PLCAA prevents them from being liable at all. As a counterpoint, gun groups view this lawsuit very differently. They point out that the AR-15 rifle, which was the one used in Sandy Hook, is one of the most common rifles sold in America, and that it is not an automatic assault rifle, despite the aggressive, militarized look. Additionally, pro-gun groups argue that the PLCAA protections are reasonable, and that the person who pulls the trigger, not the company that makes the trigger, should be liable. Related Resources: Injured by a gun? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) Chemical Spill in Kansas Hospitalizes Over 100 People (FindLaw’s Injured) When to Sue a Chiropractor for Injury (FindLaw’s Injured) Is Apple Liable for Distracted Driving Accidents? (FindLaw’s Injured)
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Tips for Defending Against a Frivolous Injury Lawsuit

You have been served with an injury lawsuit and from your point of view, it is a frivolous claim. But you still have to defend yourself. So how do you do that? Let’s take a quick look at negligence and how you defend it by negating the elements of the claim. Negligence, in Brief The elements of negligence are duty, breach, causation and harm (or injury). To defend against a claim of personal injury, you will have to negate an element of negligence. In brief, the plaintiff will argue that you owed them a duty of care, that you breached that duty, and that the breach caused a harm or injury which is compensable. Damages are only awarded if all of that can be shown. For the defendant, only one element must be disproven to defeat the case. How to Negate the Elements of the Frivolous Claim You need not negate every element and some might be impossible to disprove. Duty of care, for example, may be difficult to disapprove as the duty arises from a relationship — personal, professional, service, or other — and is likely the basis for your being named in the claim. Still, you might argue that you owed the plaintiff no duty of care. Whether that is plausible depends on the details of the case. If the person injured had only the most tangential relationship to you, perhaps you owed them no duty. A more likely argument is that you did not breach the duty of care. Even if you were in some sort of relationship with the plaintiff, you can still argue that you behaved as a reasonable person would under same or similar circumstances. In other words, you owed a duty and did not breach it. If you can show no breach, you have already succeeded — you cannot be held liable for an injury if you behaved as a reasonable person would under same or similar circumstances. The same principles apply to causation and harm. The plaintiff argues you caused the harm. You try to show that there were intervening causes that were not foreseeable or that you just did not cause it at all. Finally, you might argue that there was no injury or that the injury is not as severe as the plaintiff argues and that the damages sought far exceed actual harm. Talk to a Lawyer There is really no way around this. You need a lawyer. Although the injury claim may seem frivolous to you, lawsuits involve a lot of paperwork and deadlines and administration. You do not want to defend yourself alone and you should not try. If paying for defense counsel seems prohibitive, just contemplate paying damages. Plaintiffs Too The same advice goes for plaintiffs. You need representation. If you have been injured, consult with a personal injury attorney who will assess your claim for free. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Meeting With an Injury Attorney (FindLaw) Fact Finding and Discovery (Findlaw)
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