Friday, June 5, 2009

NJ Judge Says Gun Dealer May Be Liable for Ex-Employee's Shooting of Police Officer with Stolen Gun

In Schramm v. Sarco Firearms, MRS-L-2481-04, a New Jersey judge refused to grant statutory immunity to a gun dealer who was sued when an ex-employee stole one of its handguns and shot a police officer. "Sarco Inc. of Stirling, N.J., claimed it was covered under the four-year-old federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which immunizes gun sellers from suits by victims of gun-related crimes." But the court ruled that "Sarco's failure to tell authorities that the gun was missing violated the statute", and held that "a jury should decide whether that failure constituted negligence and whether it was a proximate cause of the officer's injuries." The court reasoned that "the PLCAA was aimed at suits that impose strict liability against firearms dealers simply because they sold guns:

'[T]he PLCAA was not intended to apply to private citizen suits like the present one in which the handgun at issue was used by the defendant's own employee, possibly due to the alleged lack of security measures at the retailer's business premises. Even if the PLCAA applies, defendant's action may fall within an exception to the Statute's immunity provisions, such as the knowing failure to report the loss of a handgun from its inventory.' notes that this week, "Sarco agreed to pay a $487,500 settlement to the injured officer, Jonathan Schramm." Read more.

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