LAS VEGAS - A class action lawsuit has been filed against manufacturers and retailers of bump stocks on behalf of the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting which happened on October 1, 2017. Bump stocks were found in the Mandalay Bay hotel suite of the shooter, Stephen Paddock who opened fire on a crowd of people attending the Route 91 music festival. 58 people were killed and over 500 were injured in the mass shooting.
The lawsuit claims that the maker of the bump stocks, Slide Fire Solutions, LP was negligent in developing and marketing bump stocks to the public. It claims that the company's product can turn a semi-automatic gun into the functional equivalent of a machine gun, therefore evading federal law.
In a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF"), Slide Fire wrote that the bump stocks were intended to assist "persons whose hands have limited mobility." The lawsuit claims that later statements by the inventor indicate that bump stocks were not solely marketed for that purpose. As stated in the press release:
However, Slide Fire’s inventor of the bump stock, in a 2016 interview with AmmoLand, Jeremiah Cottle stated later, that the bump stock was geared toward “people like me, who love full auto.” The complaint alleges that plaintiffs are unaware of bump stocks actually being marketed or sold only to people whose hands had limited mobility.
The lawsuit is being filed by lawyers with Eglet Prince and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. They have filed on behalf of all the festival attendees who suffered from the shooting and are seeking costs counseling and treatment for emotional distress as well as punitive damages.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, attorneys claimed, that gunman Stephen Paddock could not have killed and injured nearly as many people as he did, if the bump stocks were not available to the general public.
So they filed a complaint to hold Slide Fire accountable, alleging the company is liable by making and selling a device that converted a conventional firearm into a machine gun.
Slide Fire's website says they've "...temporarily suspended new orders to provide the best service with those already placed."
Lifetime gun owner attorney Robert Eglet emphasized this lawsuit is not a political statement.
"This is not about restricting guns to responsible people," says Eglet. "This is about a device that was used, in our view, to subvert federal law and turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns that are meant for one purpose--to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible."
We reached out to Slide Fire for comment but a recording on their phone line said there wasn't room to leave a message and Slide Fire didn't reply to our email.
Attorney Eglet says wrongful death cases and survivors who were injured will file cases as individuals when they determine who else could possibly be negligent.
Questions and answers about the bump stock lawsuit, as stated in the October 10 press release from Eglet Prince and The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:
Who is filing this lawsuit?
Lawyers with Eglet Prince and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence have filed a lawsuit on behalf of victims of last Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Counsel of record are: Jonathan Lowy, of the Brady Center; Robert Eglet, Robert Adams, Aaron Ford, Erica Entsminger, of Eglet Prince.
What is the lawsuit?
We have filed suit against Slide Fire Solutions, the creator and owner of the of the “bump stock” patent that enabled the killer to turn the country music festival into a war zone, and unnamed sellers and manufacturers of bump stocks that may have supplied the killer.
The lawsuit is a class action on behalf of people who suffered emotional distress as a result of the incident. Lawsuits on behalf of those wounded or killed by gunfire will follow.
This lawsuit is about the negligent sale and marketing of a product intended to circumvent and subvert federal firearms law in a manner that facilitates criminal acts, such as the massacre of October 1.
Negligent supplying of such dangerous products not only causes foreseeable harm (such as the shooting incidents underlying this case), it unfairly tarnishes the right of all law-abiding citizens to bear arms for lawful purposes, including protection, hunting, or other recreational activities.
Why doesn’t the lawsuit name all of the companies you are suing?
The lawsuit is based on the best-known information, and will be amended as more information is obtained about which other companies made, marketed, and sold the bump stock devices at issue.
What is a bump stock?
Bump stocks are after-market devices that convert semiautomatic weapons into the functional equivalent of machine guns.
When and where was this lawsuit filed?
The lawsuit was filed in state court in Las Vegas on Friday.
Who is covered by this lawsuit?
The class action is filed on behalf of those who attended the music festival.
How much money are you asking for?
That will be determined at a later time, as the case progresses.
Why has the Brady Center filed this lawsuit?
The Plaintiffs need and are entitled to be compensated and to have their injuries diagnosed and treated.
There is a long tradition of utilizing impact litigation to force irresponsible actors to pay for the costs of their conduct, to encourage them and others to act more responsibly in the future.
What are the central arguments of the lawsuit?
Negligence is the fundamental principle of our civil society and our civil justice system. Negligence demands that every business and person is obligated to act reasonably. The law says you can’t act unreasonably to create foreseeable risk of injury to others.
The complaint alleges that the makers and sellers of these bump stocks acted unreasonably, and dangerously, by selling a device that had one purpose – to enable people to fire more rounds of ammunition more quickly. Combined with high capacity magazines, they enabled this killer to fire about 9 rounds a second.
The complaint alleges that the sellers of bump stocks evaded the law, and that they knew that it was likely that these devices would be used by criminals.
The complaint alleges that if the sellers had used reasonable care, the damage would have been less, probably far less. In fact, the shooting may not have happened at all, as we’ve seen that mass killers tend to launch their assaults only when they’re emboldened by an arsenal.
The complaint alleges that they may be liable under Nevada law of negligence, products liability, and public nuisance.
What damages is the lawsuit seeking?
We are seeking medical monitoring to provide medical and psychological assistance for people affected by the shooting.
We are also seeking punitive damages, because of the defendants’ egregious and dangerous actions. How could a lawsuit like this one prevent future mass shootings?
By holding makers and sellers of bump stocks accountable, they will be forced to internalize the costs of their conduct, and act more responsibly in the future, and it sends a message to others who are looking to skirt or subvert the law.
Does this lawsuit interfere with the second amendment?
This lawsuit does not in any way challenge the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms.
Does this lawsuit infringe on businesses’ rights to sell a commodity?
This lawsuit also does not challenge in any way the right of responsible companies to operate a business of selling guns or lawful accessories to law-abiding citizens.
Some may interpret this as an attempt to hold someone accountable other than the killer, what is your response?
This law in absolutely no way excuses what the killer did. No one feels more strongly about his horrific acts than our clients. But those who enable and facilitate killers like that, and choose to profit off of them while endangering us all, must pay the consequences. Otherwise, they will keep on endangering us, because it’s all profit to them, and other people pay the cost.