Wisconsin Jury Issues $5.73 Million Verdict Against Gun Store Which Illegally Sold Firearm Used To Shoot Two Police Officers

In what is likely the first verdict of its kind since federal laws shielding gun stores from being sued were enacted, a Wisconsin jury has held that a gun store must pay $5.73 million to two police officers who were shot by a gun the store sold illegally.

The civil lawsuit against the gun store tested the limits of liability for gun stores after federal laws were changed in 2005 preventing most lawsuits against  guns sellers.  While most lawsuits  were prevented, the law did allow some lawsuits to continue against storeowners,  including  situations  in which the store illegally sold firearms which were later used to hurt others.

In this case, the shooting victims  who sued the gun store were two police officers, both of whom were shot multiple times.handgun

Federal law requires the purchaser of a firearm to complete a form saying whether they is in fact the true purchaser or whether they were buying it for someone else.   In this case, the real buyer of the gun was 18-year-old Julius Burton, who was too young to legally purchase a gun.  So Burton went into the gun store with an older friend, Jacob Collins, to have Collins act as if Collins were buying the gun, when the real purchaser was Burton.

Store surveillance video used during the trial  showed the 18-year-old pointing his finger into the gun case to show Collins which gun to buy.  The  injured police officers claimed that Collins filled out the paperwork and correctly checked the box saying “No” in response to the question whether he was the actual purchaser of the gun, and that Collins changed his answer to  falsely state “Yes”  after being told to do so by an employee of the gun store.

The attorney for the gun store has promised to appeal the decision, contending that the law in fact does shield the gun store in this case, and that the police officers claims should have been thrown out without a trial.

Here’s an article from the Washington Post describing the situation in more detail:


The multimillion dollar Wisconsin gun store verdict that could reverberate in the gun debate

Washington Post article

October 14, 2015 at 5:20 PM

A Milwaukee state court jury ordered Badger Guns, one of the country’s most prominent firearm retailers, to pay $5.73 million after the suburban West Milwaukee store was found liable for negligence Tuesday in the 2009 shooting of Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch, two local law enforcement officers.

The landmark case, which held firearm retailers responsible for disregarding the potential harm of their sales, is only the second of its kind nationwide — and the first to rule against the gun store.

(The other case, concluded early this summer, exonerated an Alaskan gun store of wrongdoing.)

“I didn’t want to send a message around the country,” Dunphy told reporters after the verdict was handed down. “What I wanted to do was represent my two clients, two Milwaukee police officers.”

He added, “If some gun dealers around the country realize that they may have their feet held to the fire because of the penal damage award here, then that’s a bonus.”

The defense attorney, James Vogts, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he intends to appeal. He argued at trial that Badger Guns owner, Adam Allan, couldn’t be held financially responsible for crimes connected to a weapon sold at the store, the AP reports.

A federal law passed in 2005 granted blanket civil immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers, but with several exceptions. Among these is “negligent entrustment” of a buyer with a firearm, for which the jury found Badger Guns liable.

The case against the store — formerly Badger Outdoors, now Brew City Shooter Supply — began with a problematic sale, the suit argued.

In May of 2009, Jacob Collins, a “straw purchaser,” arrived in Badger Guns with 18-year-old Julius Burton. Surveillance footage from inside the store shows Burton gesturing to his gun of choice: a Taurus PT140 Pro .40 caliber handgun.

“That’s the one I want,” he told Collins, an exchange the defendants said had not been seen by the store clerk who handled Collins’s purchase.

Before making the purchase, Collins was asked to fill out a Firearms Transaction Form, on which he initially checked “no” to being the actual buyer/transferee of the gun, the suit alleged. But on the counsel of Donald Flora, the store clerk, he changed his response to “yes,” the complaint alleged.

Two days later, Collins and Burton returned to the store to pick up the gun and some ammunition. Burton paid Collins, and they parted ways.

In this Oct. 5, 2015 photo, Milwaukee Police Officer Bryan Norberg describes being shot while testifying in court during the Badger Guns trial in Milwaukee. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

The following month, Norberg and Kunisch were on duty inside a squad car when they saw Burton riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. The officers directed Burton to move, as riding on the sidewalk goes against a Milwaukee ordinance. The 18-year-old ignored them and continued cycling.

The officers exited their car and started pursuing Burton, attempting to talk to him. He started flailing his arms, trying to flee and fighting aggressively, according to the complaint.

Then Burton pulled out a gun and started shooting. Both officers were hit, with Kunisch sustaining several severe injuries and Norberg wounded in the face.

Seven .40 caliber casings later, Burton fled, but he was found shortly afterwards in a basement. There, he had with him ten unfitted cartridges of .40GFL rounds, one loose .40GFL bullet and the Taurus PT140 Pro.

Though Burton was charged and later sent to jail, where he still remains, another wrongdoing haunted the officers and their families: At age 18, Burton couldn’t legally purchase a handgun by himself. Someone had to help him.

With their troubling businesses practices, the jury concluded, Badger Guns provided Burton with the opportunity to obtain a gun through the purchase by Collins.

In his testimony last week, the shooter himself described the store as a go-to place, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“Everyone knew about it, Badgers,” Burton said. “That is where a lot of people go, so I was like, I’ll go there.”

“There” was the source of more than 500 firearms found at crime scenes, authorities said, according to the AP. A charging document for an unrelated 2005 case called it the “No. 1 crime gun dealer in America.”

Badger Outdoors changed its name and transferred ownership to Badger Guns in 2007, allegedly to avoid having its license revoked by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found. Through the name changes and the changes in ownership, the store has remained in the hands of the Allan family, even in its current iteration as Brew City Shooter Supply.

Badger Outdoors was owned by Walter Allan, the father of Badger Guns owner Adam Allan. In 2012, Michael Allan, Adam’s brother, took ownership and changed the name to Brew City Shooter Supply.

The store’s questionable practices helped sway jurors.

“A responsible business owner would do more and everyone agreed on that from the start,” jury foreperson Brett Heaton Juarez said. “Gun dealers have to do more than what we saw in this instance.”

Federal Laws Limiting Number of Hours Tractor-Trailer Drivers Can Work Are Routinely Ignored, Putting All Of Us At Risk

One of the biggest risk facing all of us as we drive our nation’s highways are unsafe tractor-trailers. The average person really doesn’t understand just how dangerous they can be,  because they’re not familiar with all of the issues surrounding these massive  vehicles.

In order to protect all of us, the federal government  has  strict rules limiting the number of hours  and operator can drive at one time. Unfortunately,  these limits are frequently ignored both by individual truck drivers as well as by the companies that put them on our roads.

Fatigued truck drivers remain one of the biggest causes of deaths on our nation’s highways.  Large companies concerned about their public image do everything they can to hide it,  but the fact remains that many large companies frequently and repeatedly permit, and sometimes insist upon, their drivers violating federal limits on hours behind the wheel.

The National Transportation Safety Board  has just  concluded its review of the tragic truck crash in which a Walmart truck  crushed a limousine in which Tracy Morgan and others were riding.   the driver of the Walmart truck had been awake for 28 hours straight,  and had driven over 800 miles just to get to work,  where Walmart then put him behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.   That driver was also speeding at the time of the crash, doing 65 in a 45 mph construction zone on the New Jersey Turnpike.

As so often happens in these kinds of crashes, Tracy Morgan was diagnosed as suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).   These is the same kind of invisible but still life-changing injury suffered by  many of our troops in the Middle East from IED’s.

Only in the past five or 10 years has medical science really begun to understand what exactly is happening in these serious brain injuries.    Very frequently, patients with obvious and significant cognitive problems have brain and head MRIs and CT studies which look completely normal.  This occurs because MRI’s and CT’s create images of  the larger structures in the brain, but in  most TBI’s the damage is microscopic –  massive, but still microscopic.   The nerve cells in the brain are typically very very long  and incredibly thin,  far thinner than the human hair.   When the  skull is  shaken, jarred or hit, the brain bounces around inside the skull, which is very sharp on the inside. As a result,   huge numbers of brain cells can get sheared or broken,   interfering with the brain’s function.

Here’s a link to an article from Reuters addressing the NTSB investigation, as well as a copy of the text of the article itself.   iit’s important to note that the NTSB did not find there was a problem with just this one driver, and instead is recommending that Wal-Mart implement systemwide changes to “improve fatigue management programs for drivers and install better vehicle warning systems for drivers and delivery operators.”

If you’ve been injured in a  truck crash  are any incident involving a brain injury,  you need an experienced attorney helping you deal with all the many different problems you’ll face.  We’re here to help.   call Curran Law Firm at  417-823-7500.


Tired, speeding driver held responsible for 2014 Tracy Morgan crash

A speeding Wal-Mart (WMT.N) truck driver who had been awake for 28 hours was held responsible on Tuesday for a 2014 highway crash that left “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan with brain injuries and killed a fellow comedian, U.S. transport regulators said.

The National Transportation Safety Board also concluded in a review that the injuries to Morgan and other passengers were exacerbated by their failure to wear seat belts.

Changes to the interior of their limousine van trapped them inside for some 40 minutes after the vehicle overturned in the June 7, 2014 collision on the New Jersey turnpike, the review board said.

Morgan, 46, suffered a serious brain injury and broken bones and was left in a coma. The “Saturday Night Live” star has not performed since the accident. Comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair was killed and nine other people were injured in the chain reaction collision that involved 21 people in six vehicles

In a public hearing, NTSB officials said the Wal-Mart truck driver had driven 800 miles overnight to the company’s distribution centre before embarking on his delivery, and had been awake for more than 28 hours at the time of the crash.

The truck was driving 65 miles per hour (104 km per hour) in a 45 miles per hour (72 km per hour) zone. It did not slow down when entering a road construction zone where it rear-ended the slower-travelling limousine van at around 1:00 a.m. ET, the NTSB said.

“The passengers … had no available exits until emergency responders removed part of a plywood panel that had been installed between the passenger compartment and the cab,” NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said at the meeting in Washington.

The only other way of exiting, a sliding door, “had become inoperable in the crash,” Hart said.

The driver of the van was not wearing a seat belt and only one of the six passengers was strapped in, allowing them to be thrown around inside at the time of the impact.

NTSB investigators recommended that Wal-Mart improve fatigue management programs for drivers and install better vehicle warning systems for drivers and delivery operators.

The truck driver, Kevin Roper, faces charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto and is awaiting trial in New Jersey.

Morgan and some of the others who were injured reached a settlement with Wal-Mart in May, although terms have not been made public.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bill Trott, Will Dunham and Andrew Hay)

Asbestos: A Cause of Personal Injury in Missouri

The state of Missouri is home to many different industries – including agriculture, mining and truck assembly plants. The state has spent over 700 million dollars on private industries involving transportation and warehousing, as well as 400 million on private industries involving agriculture. A huge problem with these industries, truck assembly plants and power plants has been the use of asbestos – a deadly mineral that may cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and/or lung cancer.

Righting the Wrong

Over the years, there have been lawsuits filed against cities of Missouri and/or certain companies that have used asbestos. An environmental group, Families for Asbestos Compliance, Testing and Safety (FACTS), has sought to educate the public and private industries on the dangers of asbestos, as well as hold responsible parties’ accountable for the injuries they cause. For example, in 2005, the group filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for using an illegal method of asbestos removal. Other cases involving asbestos in Missouri were also filed in 2006 and 2007.

Personal Injury Attorneys Dealing with Cases Involving Asbestos

A personal injury lawsuit not only compensates the injured parties for damages; it also holds the responsible parties accountable which may lead to positive changes in the future. A personal injury case should be filed within five years of the discovered problem – or three years if the case concerns wrongful death. It is best to take photographs and collect evidence to help prove the injuries and the fault of the defendant, and a personal injury attorney is extremely helpful in proving a case, receiving compensation and settling out of court. There are many personal injury attorneys willing to deal with cases involving asbestos, and the success of the cases are likely as long as the plaintiff is able to prove the existence of asbestos and negligence on the part of the defendant.

Auto Accidents: The Most Common Personal Injury in Missouri

The State of Missouri’s Department of Transportation reported that there were over 100,000 crashes in 2009 on the state highway system. Over 30,000 of these crashes involved injuries or fatalities. Over 80 percent of the accidents involved a motor vehicle in traffic. The responsible parties must be held accountable for the injuries suffered by the victims of the accidents. Often this involves filing a lawsuit for a personal injury claim.

Must-Do’s in an Auto Accident

If you are in an auto accident, you should take photographs of the accident if your health allows you to do so. Take pictures of both vehicles involved, including the license plate of the other party’s vehicle (or at least write this information down, as well as the other party’s name, address, license number and insurance company). If any witnesses exist, it may also be helpful to receive their names and contact information as well. You must also receive medical attention as soon as possible – even if you don’t immediately feel injured. This will prevent a defense attorney from claiming that your injuries are due in part to your own negligence in receiving treatment.

Consult with an Attorney

The next thing you should do is consult with a personal injury attorney. Time is of the essence, since there are statutes of limitations on personal injuries (most have five years, whereas wrongful death is limited to three). Although you are not required to have an attorney to file a lawsuit, it is beneficial to you since legal matters can become very complicated. Personal injury attorneys are skilled at working with insurance companies to settle out of court, which means that you can get your settlement quickly. Many attorneys also will work for a portion of the compensation you receive from the accident – which means you won’t have to pay the attorney anything if you don’t get compensated, and you won’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for the attorney’s fees. Involvement in an auto accident is an overwhelming and painful experience. Be sure you know your rights and the laws that exist to protect you in the state of Missouri.

The Most Common Personal Injuries in Missouri

In 2010 the estimated population of the state of Missouri was just under six million people. With the millions of citizens living in Missouri, the potential for personal injury is huge. Automobile accidents account for most of the personal injury cases in the state; but other problems include the numerous industries and truck assembly plants containing asbestos (which may cause lung cancer or mesothelioma), and accidents at work or due to faulty equipment or product defect. Even pedestrians crossing roads at a crosswalk and then being hit by vehicles account for a percentage of the personal injury cases filed in Missouri.

How Most of the Personal Injury Cases are Handled

In the state of Missouri, most personal injury cases are handled by clients’ attorneys and settled out of court. Since the majority of personal injury cases are due to automobile accidents, the parties in the cases include insurance companies who are willing to settle – rather than waste time and money on legal proceedings in a courtroom. To file a lawsuit for a personal injury case in Missouri, one must act within five years of the discovered problem. For a wrongful death case, the statute of limitations is limited to three years. If the problem involves an amount of money below $3,000, the lawsuit should be filed with a small claims court.

Compensation for Damages

Ideally, the compensation for a personal injury should be enough money to restore the plaintiff to his or her previous condition before the injury occurred. In some cases, this is impossible due to the nature of the injuries or perhaps even death. In these instances, the compensation rewarded is not only meant to aid the plaintiff in his or her recovery – but is also meant to serve as punishment for the defendant’s negligence. A portion of the plaintiff’s compensation will normally go to the attorney to pay for his/her services.

What You Need to Know About Personal Injury in Missouri

A personal injury claim requires the plaintiff to prove that an injury occurred and that the injury was due to the fault of the defendant. Evidence should be collected as soon as possible, and the plaintiff should consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss whether or not there are grounds for a lawsuit. If, in fact, there are, the attorney will file a lawsuit. It is extremely important to proceed with the lawsuit in a timely manner, since in Missouri the statute of limitations for most personal injuries are five years (with a discovery rule that states the time begins when the plaintiff first became aware – or should have been aware – of the problem); and the statute of limitations for wrongful death is three years.

“Act of God” Defense in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Many personal injury cases result from what is called an “act of God,” and this is a common defense in personal injury lawsuits. For example, this may result from a car accident which is caused by the defendant experiencing a heart attack or seizure while driving. The defendant can claim that the car accident was not his or her fault due to the “act of God” being the health problem he or she experienced. To get past this defense, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent in some manner – perhaps he or she had not taken medicine to prevent the health problem from occurring, for example.

Other Defenses in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Other defenses for personal injury lawsuits include arguing that the plaintiff’s injuries were due to the plaintiff’s “assumption of risk;” that the plaintiff’s injuries were due in part to the failure of the plaintiff to receive medical treatment in a timely manner; or that the plaintiff actually had some part in the accident itself. In the state of Missouri, fault is determined by a pure comparative negligence system. This means that the defendant can be found at fault by an amount or percentage – but the plaintiff may also be found at fault in part (by the remaining percentage). For example, if the defendant is found to be at fault for the accident by 75%, the plaintiff may be rewarded 75% of the damages. To be rewarded 100% of damages, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was fully and completely at fault 100%. For more information on defenses in personal injury lawsuits and how to get past these defenses, consult a personal injury attorney in Missouri.

Pain and Blame: Personal Injury in Missouri

Personal injuries in Missouri can range from seemingly physically harmless incidents – such as a caterer promising to serve beef and then serving pork instead – to much more harmful injuries, like asbestos used in industries and truck assembly plants causing lung cancer and mesothelioma and/or even death. Claiming “personal injury” allows a person a chance to collect money to compensate him/her for damages, and it also allows the wrongdoer(s) to be punished.

Lawsuits, Settlements and More

To file a personal injury lawsuit in Missouri, one must go to the clerk of courts and submit the lawsuit paperwork. If the problem deals with an amount of money below $3,000, one may go through the small claims courts. When filing a lawsuit without an attorney, this is called per-se. However, since dealing with legal situations can become complicated, it is best to have a personal injury attorney. If one can not afford an attorney, there may be one who is willing to take the case on for free (pro bono). Most people seek to settle out of court to avoid costly fees and time. If you do choose to accept a settlement, be sure to have a lawyer look over the agreement for you.

Evidence Speaks Louder than Words

A person must remember to collect evidence as soon as possible (including photographs, any written correspondence he/she may have, etc.). There is also a statute of limitations on personal injuries. In Missouri, this is five years for most injuries; but wrongful death includes a statute of only three years. One should speak with an attorney as soon as possible so he/she will know the statute of limitations for filing. An attorney will also be able to know whether or not there is a reason for a lawsuit and if that person should proceed. The nature of personal injury lawsuits requires clear proof that damage was done to someone and by someone else – and personal injury attorneys are able to make sure justice is served.

How To Find The Best Lawyer For Your Case

There are a lot of opinions on what makes a good lawyer. Not every person thinks that personality matters, or education, or experience. Some put more weight on a specfic area than others. If you need a good lawyer, there are several issues that you really should consider.

Ask About Experience

Every lawyer has to start somewhere, but you should look for one that’s handled your kind of case before. That’s especially true if your case is a complex or difficult one, or if there are extenuating and abnormal circumstances surrounding it.

Find Out Your Lawyer’s Education

Where your lawyer went to school might not be that important, because he had to pass the bar exam to get where he is today. That requires a specific level of knowledge. Still, how long ago he went to school and what kind of continuing education he focuses on could be important to you, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Do Your Personalities Mesh?

You could be working with your lawyer for a while, so you want to find someone you can get along with. If your personalities don’t work well together, it’s best to find a lawyer you feel better about. Too many conflicts can lead to serious communication problems, which could end up being detrimental to your case. A good outcome is important, and communication is needed for that.

Personality, education, and experience should all be taken together when it comes to picking the right lawyer for you. Don’t make your decision based on only one factor, because there is a lot to consider when hiring any legal professional.

Getting Compensation For Your Injuries

If you’ve been hurt on the job or in some kind of accident that’s no fault of your own, you may be interested in seeking compensation for your injuries. This can be easier said than done, depending on what type of injury you had and who caused it.

Know What Your Injuries Are ‘Worth’

For purposes of insurance, there are values placed on injuries. These are based on how much they debilitate a person and also on whether they are temporary or permanent. While these are not exact values for your specific case, they can help you determine what compensation might be for these kinds of problems.

How To Get Compensation

Sometimes, you’ll simply be offered compensation. Other times, you’ll need to go after it in order to collect. If you’re offered compensation for your injury, make sure it’s realistic and fair. Don’t just take the first offer you get because you assume you can’t do any better.

What Questions To Ask Your Lawyer

If you’ve gotten a compensation offer, ask your lawyer whether he believes that to be a fair price. If so, you may want to take it and move on. It it’s not a fair price, though, you can ask about suing and what will be involved to move your case forward, as well as what you can reasonably expect to collect.

Don’t just assume that your injuries aren’t ‘worth’ anything, or that you have to suffer without compensation. You should work to get the amount that’s fair and just, especially if your injury is permanent.

Does Your Boss Owe You Money For An Injury?

When you work for a living, you need that money to support your family. Unfortunately, an on the job injury can stop you from getting the money you need to pay your bills. If you got hurt on the job and can’t work, it’s important to find out what your boss or company will be doing to help take care of you.

Be Sure You Know Your Rights

You might not know what rights you have as an injured worker, but you can find out by doing a little bit of research. Most people do this online, but there are other ways to get the information, as well. The important thing is that you determine what rights you have.

Ask Your Lawyer About Injury Compensation

If you aren’t sure how much compensation you should get for your injury, or whether you should get any at all, it’s a good idea to talk with your lawyer about what’s realistic. That way, you’ll know whether you want to pursue your legal case or whether it wouldn’t benefit you to do so.

Make Sure You Give Your Company A Chance

For any on the job injury, especially if you’ve worked with the company for some time, it’s a good idea to work with that company for compensation, if possible. Suing right away doesn’t solve the problem.

If you do need to bring a lawsuit, though, be sure to do that in a timely manner. There are often time limits on personal injury issues, so talking with a lawyer if the company won’t help you is very important.