The Center for Law, Health and Society represents the culmination of research, educational and community outreach initiatives developed in the health law field at Georgia State University. For more information about the center, visit clhs.law.gsu.edu.


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Prof. Lytton Comments on Senator Bernie Sanders and the PLCAA

lytton finalGuns and manufacturer liability is a recurrent topic during the presidential debates between Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which provides immunity to firearm manufacturers and retailers from liability for violence connected with a firearm that they sold or manufactured, is the core of the discussion.

Professor Timothy Lytton provided insight on the PLCAA and on Sanders’ rationale for supporting the law. In the L.A. Times March 7 article “Column Sanders Got the Gun Makers’ Liability Issue Dead Wrong (And Got an Attaboy From the NRA),” Lytton commented on Sanders’ contention that expanding liability for gun makers and retailers would destroy the American gun industry. Lytton argued that the risk of greater liability would give manufacturers greater incentive to monitor the behavior of their retailers. In pointing out that the law provided exceptions to immunity, Lytton argued that Sanders “…did accept that there should be certain amount of liability exposure in the gun industry. He just wanted to roll it back to the early 1980s.”

Timothy D. Lytton is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law and a member of the Center for Law, Health & Society.  His expertise is in the public policy implications of tort litigation. Lytton is the editor of Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts (2005).


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Prof. Timothy Lytton quoted in Vox article about Bernie Sanders’ position on gun industry liability

lytton final

Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has distinguished herself from opponent Bernie Sanders moderate stance on gun industry liability. In the recent CNN debate, she pointed out that he voted in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, a law that grants immunity to the gun industry for illegal acts committed with a weapon after purchase, while she voted against it. While Clinton’s claims may have been over simplified and exaggerated, many liberals are questioning Bernie Sanders’ support. In the wake of the Milwaukee decision where a jury relied on an exception to the PLCAA finding Badger Guns negligent for knowingly selling a weapon in a straw purchase, the Vox took a closer look at this controversial law in its article, “Bernie Sanders Vote to Protect Gun Companies, Explained.

 The Vox article pointed out that even before the passage of the PLCAA, most suits against gun sellers based on injuries caused by third party criminal shootings were dismissed prior to trial. In the few cases that made it to a jury, defendants most often prevailed. All but one of the handful of jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs were overturned on appeal. In the article Prof. Timothy Lytton explained that the gun industry sought legislative immunity to avoid having to defend against suits. Immunity has essentially blocked plaintiffs from conducting discovery to learn more about gun industry distribution practices and to refine theories of liability. Ten years later, a few cases have proceeded against the gun industry to test the extent of the PLCAA or its exceptions.

 

 

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).


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Professor Lytton Quoted in Article about Federal Gun Tort Immunity Law

lytton finalThe 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act provides federal tort immunity for gun manufacturers and dealers for claims arising out of injuries caused by the unlawful use of a weapon by a third party. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been criticized for voting in favor of the 2005 law. Professor Timothy Lytton was quoted in the International Business Times October 14 article “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act: The Controversial Gun Law Bernie Sanders Voted for Has Kept Families from Winning Lawsuits,” addressing the PLCAA exception of “negligent entrustment”, the argument attorneys for the families of victims killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are using.

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).