On October 13, 2015, a Milwaukee jury awarded two police officers $5.7 million in a lawsuit against a gun store owner who sold the firearm that was used to shoot them. The 2005 federal law immunizing gun manufactures and sellers from tort liability was at issue. Plaintiffs successfully argued that their case fell under an exception to the law that holds a gun seller liable if he knowingly violate a federal gun control law. Compelling video and testimonial evidence demonstrated that the gun store clerk knew he was facilitating an illegal straw purchase when 21-year-old Jacob Collins was purchasing the firearm for 18-year-old Julius Burton.
Professor Timothy Lytton’s piece, “Milwaukee Case Could Encourage Gun Stores to Reduce Illegal Sales,” was the top story on The Conversation. The October 19 article, discusses the Milwaukee case in depth, and its implication going forward. The article was later republished as an opinion piece in Newsweek.
Timothy D. Lytton is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law with expertise in the public policy implications of tort litigation. He is the editor of Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts (2005).