Reader Jeff S. writes:
As most TTAG readers are aware, some family members of victims killed in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater mass-murder sued several gun and ammunition sellers, including Lucky Gunner, LLC. The suit asserted that these parties were somehow negligently responsible for the murderer’s actions. Thanks to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), their lawsuit was thrown out after defendants racked up over $200,000 in attorney fees. Fees that the plaintiffs were ordered to pay due to its frivolous nature.
At the time of the ruling last year, plaintiffs Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, parents of one murder victim, were cooperating with the Brady Campaign in the lawsuit:
“The Judge insinuated in his order that Brady should pay since he said they were the instigators. If this was a ploy designed to give the appearance that Brady was responsible and turn us against each other, it did not work.
Brady is still fighting for us pro bono and we see no evidence that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will not help us raise funds if and when that time comes.”
While they may have seen no evidence at that time, the Brady Campaign ultimately left them high and dry. Earlier this year, the Phillips tried to raise money via a crowd-sourcing website:
“With the backing of a gun violence prevention organization, Sandy and Lonnie were encouraged to file lawsuits against negligent internet sellers of ammunition linked to their daughter’s death. . . . . It was during the trial that the organization backing them decided to part ways—leaving Sandy and Lonnie with no financial shield against the suit and without an income.”
It’s noteworthy that they state that the split with the Brady Campaign (without naming the “gun violence prevention organization”) occurred “during the trial.” Yet their earlier statement supporting the Brady bunch was made after the conclusion of the trial. What caused the split and exactly when it happened are unexplained.
Most recently, as noted on TTAG, Ms. Phillips has taken to the pages of Mother Jones to bemoan the injustice of being held accountable for abusing the court system in order to attack a lawful business selling legal products. Despite the earlier remark about “a ploy designed to give the appearance that Brady was responsible,” she now appears to admit that they were:
“The Brady leadership also encouraged Lonnie and me to sue Lucky Gunner, the dealer that sold the stockpile of ammo to Jessi’s killer.”
The article touts the Phillips’ “nearly five years of activism,” but somehow neglects to mention the parting of ways with the Brady Campaign that they claim left them on the hook, pleading for cash from the public.
For its part, the Brady Campaign doesn’t seem to have any comment regarding the outcome of their ill-considered lawsuit or its financial impact on the Phillips. Other than the announcement they posted when the suit was filed, searching for “Aurora”, “Phillips”, and “Lucky Gunner” on the Brady website failed to turn up any mention of the suit’s disastrous outcome. Imagine that.
Then there’s the sloppy inconsistency of the suit’s own assertions of what happened that day, which certainly didn’t help the plaintiffs’ case. Claims like,
“Holmes also carried thousands of rounds of ammunition.” (Point 83)
But in the very next point (Point 84) the the complaint states that 224 unfired rounds were recovered by police. And as thedenverchannle.com reported, only 76 rounds were fired by the shooter (240 “ballistic impacts”) for a total of 300 rounds.
“Thousands of rounds” implies at least 2,000. So what happened to the other 1,700+ rounds? Were the Brady lawyers guilty of hyperbole or simple ignorance?
It’s this kind of sloppiness — combined with the the Brady Campaign’s culpable negligence in filing a suit they knew would run right up against established PLCAA protections — that has led the Phillips to financial ruin. If they have a problem with anyone in the aftermath of this legal disaster, it should be the Brady Campaign.