DC Court of Appeals ruling on gun mfr suit
The DC Court of Appeals (not the DC Circuit) has ruled on a gun mfr liability appeal (caveat: pdf file and 48 page opinion).
The suit was based on claims of negligence, nuisance, a DC statute (imposing strict liability for mfrs of assault weapons, which under DC law include any gun capable of firing more than 12 shots without reloading), and some other grounds. The trial court dismissed the suit in its entirity.
A skim of the opinion indicates it affirms all dismissals except for that of the DC statute claim. There, it held that DC itself had no right to sue, but its inhabitants might. One inhabitant was suing, altho he couldn't prove just what mfr's gun had been used (it was only known he was hit by a 9mm). The court holds that it was error to dismiss him at this stage (this was a Rule 12 dismissal, right at the start of the case) since it remains possible that thru discovery he might somehow figure out just what gun it was.
It holds that this imposition of liability would not violate the dormant Commerce Clause, even tho the gun would almost certainly have been sold outside DC. It cites cases holding that tort liability imposed by a state does not violate the dormant clause, even tho it may affect transactions in other states.
Judge Wagner dissents, arguing that the claim under the DC statute should have been dismissed as well.
UPDATE: as the commenter correctly notes, the court did allow DC's subrogation claims as to the two names plaintiffs to survive. I was rapidly skimming the 40+ page ruling and missed that section.
Subrogation is ... well, where you get hit by someone, your auto insurer pays your claim, and has a right by contract to sue the person who hit you to get back what they paid you. In this case, DC has a law providing that where it pays for medical care, it has subrogation rights to sue whoever caused the injury. That may not be much comfort to DC, tho, since (1) the claims are only as to two individuals named as plaintiffs in the suit and (2) apparently they have no idea what guns were used to shoot them.
If I was promoting this sort of case, I wouldn't be cheering over the one count to survive (temporarily, anyway). It's exactly the type of decision that can be used to argue that Congress should rule out this sort of liability. A governmental unit (not even a State, but an 80 or so square mile city) enacts a law imposing strict liability (no proof required of intent or negligence) on a manufacturer, for anyone who gets shot inside its boundaries. And the statute applies to a broad range of firearms -- anything that can take a magazine with more than 12 rounds (DC bans the Ruger 10-22 .22 rifle under that standard, by the way: it has a 10 rd mag, but other mfrs make 50 round mags for it).
Apart from the gun issue, the implication would be that a city or state could, say, impose strict liability on the mfrs of any auto that causes harm to its residents. Why not? Let your locality pull money in from Detroit (or Japan). It's better than the tourist trade!