TORTS - PERSONAL INJURY
- FIREARMS - NEGLIGENCE - PRODUCTS LIABILITY - MARKET SHARE LIABILITY - NEGLIGENT
ENTRUSTMENT - PROTECTIVE RELATIONSHIP - HANDGUN MANUFACTURERS
In the marketing and distribution
of their product, handgun manufacturers do not owe a duty of reasonable care
to the victims of handgun shootings. Even if such a duty were imposed, liability
may not be apportioned on a market share basis.
At trial, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants' failure to market and distribute their products safely created a large, illegal handgun market for minors and those responsible for the shootings at issue in this case. With only one gun in evidence and over Defendants' objection, Plaintiffs proceeded on a market-share theory of liability against all of the Defendant manufacturers for their alleged negligent marketing and distribution. The jury returned a special verdict finding that American Arms, Beretta U.S.A. and Taurus International Manufacturing negligently marketed and distributed handguns, proximately causing injuries to plaintiff Fox worth $3.95 million. The jury also found that the Defendant manufacturers' liability should be based on their respective national market shares.
The District Court denied Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law. Defendants appealed to the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, which certified two questions at issue to the New York Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals held that Defendant handgun manufacturers did not owe Plaintiffs a duty to exercise reasonable care in the marketing and distribution of their product, and that, if liability were to exist in this case, it should not be apportioned on a market-share basis.
ISSUE & DISPOSITION
1. Whether handgun manufacturers owed victims of handgun shootings a duty to exercise reasonable care in the marketing and distribution of their products.
2. Whether liability for the negligent manufacturing and marketing of handguns can be apportioned on a market-share basis, and if so, how.
2. No. Liability resulting from the negligent marketing and distribution of handguns may not be apportioned among handgun manufacturers on a market-share basis where the handguns are not deemed fungible and where the manufacturers engaged in varied production and marketing techniques that do not necessarily correspond to the amount of risk created by each manufacturers' conduct.
- Hamilton v. Accu-Tek, 62 F. Supp.2d 802 (E.D.N.Y. 1999).
- Rios v. Smith, 95 N.Y.2d 647 (N.Y. 2001).
- Lauer v. City of New York, 95 N.Y.2d 95 (N.Y. 2000).
- Healey v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 87 N.Y.2d 596 (N.Y. 1996).
- Palka v. Servicemaster Mgt. Servs. Corp., 83 N.Y.2d 579 (N.Y. 1994).
- Hymowitz v. Eli Lilly & Co., 73 N.Y.2d 487 (N.Y. 1989), cert. denied 493 U.S. 944 (1989).
- DAmico v. Christie, 71 N.Y.2d 76 (N.Y. 1987).
- Eisemen v. State of New York, 70 N.Y.2d 175 (N.Y. 1987).
- Waters v. New York City Hous. Auth., 69 N.Y.2d 225 (N.Y. 1987).
- Kush v. City of Buffalo, 59 N.Y.2d 26 (N.Y. 1983).
- Pulka v. Edelman, 40 N.Y.2d 781, rearg. denied, 41 N.Y.2d 901 (N.Y. 1976).
- 18 U.S.C. §§ 922 (a)(1)(A), (a)(2), (c), (s)(1), (t)(1).
- 18 U.S.C. §§ 923 (a), (g)(3)(A), (g)(6).
- 27 C.F.R § 178.
- 27 C.F.R § 179.
- Restatement (Second) of Torts § 390.
- Lytton, Tort Claims Against Gun Manufacturers For Crime-Related Injuries: Defining a Suitable Role for the Tort System in Regulating the Firearms Industry, 65 Mo. L. Rev. 1 (Winter 2000).
Twerski & Sebok, Liability Without Cause? Further Ruminations on Cause-in-Fact as Applied to Handgun Liability, 32 Conn. L. Rev. 1379 (Summer 2000).
- First Commercial Trust Co. v. Colts Mfg. Manufacturing Co., 77 F.3d 1081 (8th Cir. 1996).
- Armijo v. Ex Cam, Inc., 843 F.2d 406 (10th Cir. 1988).
- Kennedy v. Baird, 682 S.W. 2d 377 (Tex. Ct. App. 8th Dist. 1984).
- Merrill v. Navegar, Inc., 28 P.3d 116 (Cal. Ct. App. 2001).
Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories, 607 P.2d 924 (Cal.1980).
Daniel M. Duval '02
Timothy Q. Edwards '03
Edward K. Halperin '03
Ingrid A. Holewinski '03
Alethea K. Rebman '03
Tanya Waldrop '03