It’s a gun. It’s supposed to shoot bullets
September 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
Smith & Wesson recently found itself at the receiving end of a curious, but potentially expensive, lawsuit. According to court documents, Jay Dee and Shannon Nelson, a couple from Alaska with four children, sued the company after one of their children accidentally shot a sibling with a Smith & Wesson revolver, causing her to become a paraplegic. The Nelsons sued the company in a product liability suit that criticises it for not fitting the weapon with a safety lock.
As the gun appears to have been lawfully sold, the courts ruled that the only possible claims could be for negligent design and manufacturing defect. But both the district and appeal courts found no grounds for these claims.
Although they agreed it was “a tragic case with heartbreaking consequences”, the appeals court judges also threw out the couple’s claim that S&W should have informed them of the dangers of guns that do not have safety locks. Citing an Alaskan legal precedent, they found that “an ordinary user of a gun would know that it shoots one or more bullets when the trigger is pulled. It is unnecessary to include a warning that a gun will do what it is designed to do, in the way that it is designed to do it, because such dangers are apparent.”