Lonnie and Sandy Phillips (courtesy denver.cbslocal.com)

Over at huffingtonpost.com, Lonnie and Sandy Phillips [above], parents of Aurora cinema massacre victim Jessica Ghawi, have penned a post decrying the outcome of their lawsuit against Lucky Gunner for selling spree killer James Holmes “armor piercing” ammunition [their term]. The Phillips lost their suit. The judge awarded the respondents a $203k settlement. TTAG reader DH has this to say about that:

First,  Mr. and Mrs. Phillips, I’m sorry you lost your daughter. No one should have to endure that. You may want to stop reading now . . .


1.  Yes, the reason the judge ruled against you was that your lawsuit was frivolous.  In fact, it was the very kind of lawsuit the law was created to prevent.

2.  If your suit did have merit, then in all fairness you should have also sued, the maker of the car that James Holmes used to drive there, as well as the gas station that sold him the gas, and the refiner.  The City of Aurora facilitated by building the roads he used and you could probably go all the way back to the hospital where he was born, if you want to keep going down that path.

3.  You shock and anger that Lucky Gunner would donate the judgement against you to gun rights groups shouldn’t come as a surprise.  You attacked them in court and tried to impact their livelihood.   Im guessing had you been successful in your suit, you would have donated a portion to gun control groups, including your own, to further assault the rights of Americans who choose to exercise their rights legally.  I find this a bit hypocritical.

4.  The party responsible for taking your daughter was caught, tried and convicted.  James Holmes took her, not Lucky Gunner or any one else through negligence or malice.

Again, I’m very sorry for your tragic loss.  But in this particular instance. you brought this on yourselves.  And while you may play the hapless victim card, you are not.  You were the aggressor, and lost.

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92 Responses to “We Lost Our Daughter to a Mass Shooter and Now Owe $203,000 to His Ammo Dealer” And?

    • Nailed it is right!

      Their own words: “Attorneys at Arnold and Porter and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence brought the lawsuit for us, pro bono. We knew the risks of bringing the case.”

      Plus a little ‘egging on’ by the anti-gunners.

      • They lost their daughter and tried to turn a tragic death into a pay-day. Had they had proper legal representation, they would have been advised against bringing the suite, maybe they were. Maybe they justified the going after money through a “societal good” filter, but intimately, they were going after money. And the “for the good of society” movements have brought us such wonderful things as prohibition, welfare, and planned parenthood (which was formed to reduce minority birthrates).

        If we lived in a just world, the attorney’s that represented them should get so shoulder some of that bill, but my guess is, the attorneys both encouraged them to move forward, got them to agree to big attorney fees should they win, and also got them to hold harmless their attorney should the case back-fire.

        • I’m not sure a pay-day was what they were after, so much as ruining a company for its legal activities. They weren’t looking to heal their own loss, but to create loss for someone else. These folks were always anti-gun, and this was an opportunity to stick it to someone.
          (Though, I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen.)

  1. Since the Brady’s didn’t step up to the plate and offer to pay the awarded attorney’s fees, the parents are perhaps looking for the HuffPos to start one of those internet collections for them. They are barking up the wrong tree if so, liberals are mostly about spending other peoples’ money, not their own.

  2. Did they pay to take on this case on their own? I don’t think so. CSGV was there front and center and Bloomberg was only a speed dial away. The fact is this isn’t a fine. Let’s get that straight. What this is, is legal fees, and lost business because the good folks at lucky gunner had to take time off and go to court to hear this frivolous case. Yes Frivolous. If it wasn’t, then you can loose, but not have to pay. In this case you fell for the CSGV drivel, and well, now you pay.

    • Yep. If they want to complain about anyone, it should be the CSGV, who put them up to this in the first place. And whatever attorney was unscrupulous enough to take the case knowing it had a snowball’s chance in hell and would stick their clients with the bill. Josh Sugarman and his cronies are probably doing the Muttley snicker in their office right now.

      • Consort with evil people, this is what happens. When a group’s entire cause is bringing destruction to the innocent people of a free nation, what did these fools expect?

  3. Well said.
    A fine example of the judicial system acting impartially and delivering a fair, just judgement.

  4. Good. Your personal loss doesn’t entitle you to lash out like petty, petulant tyrants.

    Want to blame someone? Blame the lawyers and government for wanting to use you as a blank check and political puppet. Then look in the mirror and blame yourselves for being foolishly used. Enjoy the expensive life lesson.

  5. How can anyone sympathize with that level of idiocy. What did they really expect would happen! The very moment I heard about their lawsuit, I knew it was illegal. If these folks really want their money back, perhaps they should consider a malpractice suit against their attorney.

        • I’m confident most, if not all of the Phillips’ Huff ‘n Puff article was ghost written for them.

          Too much anti-gunish technical detail mixed in.

        • +1 Comforting that others notice details like that too. Nothing I’ve seen that portrays them as particularly eloquent. Sad their daughter and other innocents were killed though.

  6. So where are Bloomberg’s millions now? Imagine if a Colorado gun rights group paid off the judgment, with donations from gun owners. Heaping burning coals and all that. No, the msm wouldn’t cover it and we’d get no political points from it. But it would shame Bloomberg, if he had any shame.

    • No.

      It wouldn’t shame Bloomberg. Why would he care? If he did he would already have taken care of this tab.

      All it would do is drive home the point to these folks, and those like them, that there are no consequences to stunts like this. Sorry but as has been said many times above, they brought this on themselves with their eyes wide open. At this point helping to pay their bills isn’t compassion, its pandering and coddling.

  7. They were greedy publicity seekers who were misinformed by goody goody loons and they got what they deserved. I don’t feel sorry for them at all. The loss of a child is horrible but using it to profit and/or pursue an agenda is inexcusable.

  8. Lonnie Phillips has a paying job with the Brady Scvmbag Organization and was represented by Arnold & Porter, a top global law firm. Phillips says that he was warned by both that the suit was barred by not one, but two statutes. He chose to proceed anyway. Fvck him.

    • Thanks, Ralph. My recollection too that Phillips were involved with Brady before the Aurora shooting. Guess we’ll never know the extent that Brady, etc. encouraged them, but declined to indemnify them

  9. Huffington Post still has some fairly outrageous PC-isms on it, but its largely just a salacious tabloid now. Its about a step up from Cosmo maybe. Your analogy of the gas station and car maker is spot on, and its the reason why gun and ammo companies can’t be blamed for these things, it would invite ruinous litigation against any company anytime their products are in the vicinity of some one who ceases to breathe unexpectedly. If they really want to stop gun violence they would be fighting the social forces that are causing people to be so disenfranchised with the world around them, they would be fighting for the re-enforcement of communities and families they way they were back before people went on rampages.

    • My understanding is that the plaintiffs were ordered to pay the defendants’ attorney fees because it was a frivolous suit. The actual parties would be responsible for that payment, not their attorneys. And since, according to Ralph, the attorneys duly warned them that their suit was barred and frivolous, the parties can’t come back on the attoneys for incompetent representation (the correct term just escaped me)–which they don’t appear to be interested in doing anyway.

  10. I wonder how many times they were told “No way you’re gonna win” by respectable counsel, before they found one that would take it.

    Oh, here’s your problem, “… the Rachel Maddow Show covered us twice,” and “Attorneys at … the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence brought the lawsuit for us, pro bono. We knew the risks of bringing the case. We knew that Colorado and Congress have given special protection of the gun industry, and we knew that under Colorado law we could even be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees because of those special protections.”

    Folks – why were you so surprised?

    • I love how special protection is bad when it’s given to some people, but good when it forces private industry to hire unskilled people to meet a quota. More hypocritical fools, they got what they deserved.

  11. Let’s place some blame where it belongs: lawyers. Allow me a tangental anecdote here for a moment:

    I’m old enough to remember when lawyers were not allowed to advertise their services other than ads in the yellow pages of the phone book (remember those? Before there were online phone directories, we used to have big thick books of phone numbers for people, and then a section of the phone book for businesses, by business category. Yes kids, I’m dating myself here).

    Now, here’s the deal with how the legal profession used to conduct itself: Lawyers did not have ads in magazines, they didn’t do direct mailings in strike suits, they didn’t have late-nite ads for medical issues, there were no ads on TV telling people that they could get crap for free or get on Social Security disability by calling a lawyer, etc. Lawyers were seen as a respected profession, and lawyers spent quite a bit of their time explaining the law to prospective clients and telling people why they didn’t have a case, or why they should try to resolve issues outside of court.

    Lawyers didn’t enjoy high polling, but people generally thought well of most lawyers because there was an air of respectability about the profession.

    Then two things happened: The first was Bates v. Arizona, a SCOTUS case that challenged the 50 states’ bar associations ban on advertising. The nexus of the case was “is advertising protected speech, and a ban on same at variance with the First Amendment?” The SCOTUS ruled that advertising was indeed protected commercial speech, and ruled the state bars’ bans on advertising were unconstitutional.

    The second thing that happened was that wages for graduates with the typical four-year liberal arts degree stagnated and then went down (adjusted for inflation) through the early 90’s to today. Law school became seen as a “grad school for people with useless BA’s” by far too many young people. There was a flood of people who really aren’t good at law, with many of these graduates of an increasingly absurd number of bottom-of-the-barrel law schools having to hustle the public for business.

    At this point, the idea of lawyers as professionals is a joke. To any lawyer who contests otherwise, I respond: “Did the penetrating legal argument of ‘If the glove does not fit, you must acquit’ result in disbarment? If not, why not?” Are you really going to tell me that the hucksters peddling their services on late-night TV are ‘professionals’?

    End of tangent, and on with my point:

    In this environment, we now have lawyers pitching absurd legal theories on contingency to naive clients such as the Phillips (above) because they’re seeking a payoff – even if the case is settled out of court. Most defendants in such a suit would probably have settled for (eg) $250K and a NDA, but the defendant above didn’t settle.

    Well, this is the result. Some really incompetent lawyer sold the Phillips on a really dubious legal theory, probably expecting an OOC settlement and a quick $30 to $50K in their pocket. It blew up, and now the Phillips are on the hook for the legal fees. IMO, the court should have sanctioned the lawyers who convinced the Phillips to file this absurd suit, because most lawyers and judges would probably agree that the case had no merits on its face, and pursuing this case was always going to result in this result if the defendants didn’t fold.

    • Seriously. The anti-gun engine fuels their boiler by burning up people who have experienced tragedy, and the people shoveling them in are their lawyers.

    • In this case, the absurd legal theory comes from the Brady Campaign. The clients had apparently been made aware that the law was against them and this was the likely outcome but chose to proceed anyway.

      As for Cochrane and the glove, why should that be an issue? His entire job during that trial, and any trial where he acted as a defense attorney, was to maximize reasonable doubt. The government is claiming that this is a glove worn by his client to commit the crime. It’s his job to make that claim, and any other made by the state, seem dubious. If any lawyers should have gotten a hard look at after that trial, it was the prosecutors, who had some unforced errors along the way, including how the glove was handled.

      • The prosecutors were inept in the extreme, and Judge Ito should have been sanctioned or removed from the bench for flagrant incompetence. The entire circus showed lawyers to be non-professionals. If the law were a profession, then the California Bar should have pulled the license of every lawyer involved in that trial for making a mockery of the process and ongoing contempt of court. “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” is merely my shorthand for “You people who claim to be professionals allowed yourselves to be made to look like fools and clowns without using the power you had to punish those who did so.”

  12. They should sue Brady and their attorney. Considering Lucky Gunner was started by former students of Instapundit, you gotta figure LG’s defense counsel table was the legal equivalent of the ’27 Yankees. (*Looks across table… Hmmm, Reynolds, Volokh, Barnett, Bernstein, Somin… slaps money on the table a la Kramer – “I’m Out!”)

  13. ‘We knew that Colorado and Congress have given special protection of the gun industry” Bullshit ! People that buy a car are responsible for driving it, not the car manufacturer. People that buy a knife are responsible for how it is used. Not the knife manufacturer. Someone who buys a gun is responsible for how it is used. Only in your imagination and those of others like you is special treatment given to gun manufacturers that isn’t given to other industries. Get off of your high horse and start getting the government to lock up dangerous mentally ill people and criminals instead of pursuing an insane lawsuit. I feel sorry for you that your daughter was killed but I sure don’t feel sorry that you lost your lawsuit. Get those idiots that talked you into doing this to pay your fine.

  14. Grief over a tragic loss can make someone do some really stupid things. Sorry folks, you done screwed the pooch.

    • That would depend on how much equity they have, which I assume is not very much since these folks said they would have to declare bankruptcy if collection on the judgment is pursued. Debtors are allowed to protect up to a specified amount of money in equity in a home (which may be different under state and federal law). Last I heard, years ago, was that it was around $80,000. The rest is up for grabs, secured creditors standing first in line, in order that their secured interest attached. A judgment creditor is a secured creditor, but likely somewhere down the list of priority.

    • Mark usually has the better of me on this kind of stuff, but (a) the laws vary state by state and (b) most states, I expect, have some kind of “homestead protection” law that prevents a judgment debtor from losing his home, if nothing else. Texas has a fairly generous homestead law, especially if you can claim an agricultural ‘homestead”, that includes your house, the “tools of your trade”, and at least one vehicle as being protected from seizure by a judgment holder.

  15. As Dennis Prager so often reminds us, the court system is a lottery for many people. This anti-ftivolous lawsuit legislation was designed to repel this sort of activity. In that respect, this time it worked as well as gun control legislation and the irony is delicious. While their back-story is sad, they should now be angry with their lawyer, who should have told them this outcome was possible. Actually, I’d be willing to bet he did but they wouldn’t listen.

  16. The road to your personal hell is paved with good intentions. Instead of screw you…you got screwed. To F-King bad. Dead Daughter and 203k in the hole. Sell your house or pump that mortgage or move into a trailer in the shitty part of town where you’ll need a gun to protect yourself or one day when you finally realize you were a pawn in someone’s else’s fight, give up and smoke it.

    Johnny Judge got this one right

  17. CO should just shelve the death penalty since Holmes apparently didn’t rate it.
    Too bad the cops didn’t waste him.
    As to the suit, next time don’t get led by lawyers and activists. Ask bloomberg for the money

  18. I take issue with LuckyGunner’s recent policy which requires us, the purchasers, to indemnify LuckyGunner. Remember, the word “indemnify” means that you would have to pay for LuckyGunner’s legal expenses if someone sues LuckyGunner in connection with your ammunition purchase … expenses which exceeded $200,000 in their recent lawsuit referenced in this article.

    And this isn’t even necessary: LuckyGunner could have banked that $200,000 for future lawsuits.

    I really like their website and their prices on many offerings. Unfortunately, I do not order from LuckyGunner any more: I cannot risk being stuck with their ginormous legal expenses if someone sues me and, in-turn, them … at least not when other distributors have similar prices and no indemnity clauses.

  19. Why didn’t they sue the movie theater while they were at it? The theater did not ensure the safety of its patrons.

    • Why didn’t they sue to movie company (the theater)?

      I can see it now. Those theaters that have started doing bag checks have put themselves in a position of liability if they happen to miss something and another tragedy happens because of their error. Those that don’t do bag checks will continue to be disinterested third parties with no responsibility.

      I’m not a lawyer (and maybe someone can identify some supporting case law, if it exists), but I think this is a sad consequence of how the scope of legal liability can grow, putting the good Samaritans in the cross hairs of the plaintiffs.

      • When I lived in Chicago, property owners would be liable for sidewalk slips if they shoveled their snowy walkways. If unshoveled, a slip was deemed an ‘act of god’ and no liability. Not sure if still the situation, but seemed to land in the ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ category.

  20. Their beef should be with the Brady gang. Any lawyers who advocated that they engage in this lawsuit were incompetent and should be held criminally liable for negligence. The Brady crew led this couple down their bad path.

    In the meantime, there is no reason that lucky gunner should be forced to pay their own legal fees in such a ridiculous lawsuit. Their defense is not supposed to be de facto punishment.

  21. This really isn’t that complicated:

    We Lost Our Daughter to a Mass Shooter…

    Yes. A mass shooter murdered your daughter. That mass shooter bears sole liability for your loss. The ammo dealer bears neither legal nor moral liability.

    …and Now Owe $203,000 to His Ammo Dealer”

    That’s because you chose to engage that ammo dealer in a frivolous lawsuit, and in so doing explicitly exposed yourself to legal liability for the costs of that ammo dealer’s defense against your frivolous lawsuit.

    The ammo dealer is not liable for your daughter’s death; you, on the other hand, are entirely liable for the ammo dealer having to incur the cost of defense of a frivolous lawsuit.

    Even a Brady Campaign employee should be able to grasp such a distinction.

    • Phillips: ‘I’m a gun-control proponent and have worked my ass off to prevent tragedies like this through promoting more anti-gun laws and disarmament efforts. This kind of thing can’t happen to us. Someone has to pay!’

      Answer: ‘Yes sir, Holmes does; and because of your unrelenting political dogma, now you do too.’

    • I feel zero pity for people who stand on the coffin of their daughter in an attempt to make sure there are more coffins with other people’s daughters.

  22. I wonder if they insisted that their attorney go ahead and file an obvious frivilous lawsuit or whether it was their attorney that convinced them to file it? The distinction is notable.

  23. The respondents are whining about being held accountable for bringing a frivolous lawsuit? The sting they feel from having the tables turned against them with a $203K judgment accomplishes exactly what the pertinent Federal law intended, to serve as a deterrent to any other activist who might be contemplating filing a frivolous lawsuit as a means to harass and make life difficult for the opposition. The Phillips have no one blame but themselves, but the Brady group shares some of the culpability and obviously has more money than good sense in their decision to provide financial backing for a civil action any competent attorney surely recognized as a loser from the get go. No telling how many millions the Brady group burns through supporting this and similar lawsuits, and their attorneys are apparently quite content with the fools they have for clients and more than happy to keep taking their money.

  24. Sorry for your loss now pay up. How many people have died from texting and driving and there are still cell phones?

    No double standards put DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your support and vote. Pass the word. mrpresident2016.com

  25. They lost their daughter because someone with no valid motive used a gun against her. Their response was to try to extort money from the ammunition retailer, with no valid case, by way of……men with guns, which ultimately is how judgments are enforced.

    What hypocrites and blood dancing monsters these two turned out to be. If they start a GoFundMe campaign now, I’d tell them to GoFThemselves.

    • Even if the case is dismissed quickly, the defendant still has some level of effort required to respond. At lawyer rates and billing practices, those hours and dollars add up quickly.

  26. What an absolutely perfect response! Though I too sympathize with this couple it has to be heartbreaking to lose a child. You just have to understand who the real monster in this tragedy was, and that was Holmes.

  27. They need psychiatric help. Once you ascribe malice to ammunition, or any common purchase of any other inanimate object, you have lost touch with reality. I suppose they would have preferred the firearm and the ammunition be put on trial in lieu of an actual perpetrator. I am deeply saddened by their loss, while simultaneously having zero sympathy for their misplaced stupidity.

  28. Hmm, the law worked exactly as intended despite the fact that you chose to ignore it?

    Oh well. You buys your ticket, you takes your chances. Ask Bloomburg for some pocket change.

  29. They most likely did this knowing it would be shot down and they would have to pay a bunch of money. They want to be the poor victims fighting against the big bad gun industry in order to try to get people on their side.

  30. Sorry for their loss. I can’t begin to comprehend their anguish at losing their daughter.

    If you want to vent against someone not directly involved in the shooting, try looking toward the so called mental health professional who was treating the guy.

    But to try to deconstruct the event and assign blame to everyone involved in any product or service used by the shooter is foolish lashing out, hoping to pin some of the blame on someone other than he who actually took her life. Direct your rage appropriately against the one who pulled the trigger.

    • …and direct your anger toward a justice system that is doing nothing to truly punish shooters. Instead it punishes taxpayers by making us pay for their incarceration. IMO, a mandatory death penalty if you kill someone during the commission of a crime (insane or not) would go far in preventing some of this. Too bad we would still have to abide by the appeals process, which delays death penalties by decades.

  31. I saw the link to that story on Yahoo, but I refuse to click on anything by the Huffington Post anymore. Great article that states my sentiments exactly.

  32. The headline should read:

    “We filed a frivolous lawsuit against an ammo dealer…..and now we owe them $208k”

  33. If these had been conservatives who had failed at trying to protect their liberties, they would be made whole almost instantly by a GoFundMe type fundraiser. I have little expectation that the left would be so compassionate and generous with their own money when it comes to backing like thinkers. For the left, the only answer is to steal someone else’s money to settle a score. It will be interesting to see where this goes next…

  34. I feel really sorry for this family trying to get rich dancing in their child’s blood saying poor me! poor me! give me money! make me rich, if child had lived would they have gotten money from the child? yup! poor poor them! open mouth insert foot, cry, cause you can’t get foot back; these people are disgusting! they don’t believe in the law unless it can enrich them,

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