It begins. A court petition has been filed on behalf of Emilia Marin, a staff member at Robb Elementary School, to investigate the gun manufacturer whose rifle was used in the May 24 mass shooting. It’s not a lawsuit – yet- but a pre-suit petition. It seeks to determine if the gunmaker, Daniel Defense, can be sued for how it markets its rifles.
In Texas, the state gives broad power to investigate potential claims before filing a lawsuit. Texas’s Rule of Civil Procedure 202 allows greater pre-litigation discovery. Rule 202 is described as “a trailblazer in pre-litigation discovery.” This court petition is believed to be the first action by those affected by the mass shooting in Uvalde.
Emilia Marin is the staff member who was outside the school building bringing in food for an end-of-year party. She saw the shooter’s car crash and went inside to get her cellphone. She called 911, went back outside and saw that the shooter hop the fence with a rifle strapped across his chest. Marin had propped the school door open with a rock as she went to bring in the food. She kicked that rock out of the way to close the door when she ran back inside after seeing the shooter. The details of the rock and door has been a part of the confusing re-telling of the actions that happened during the school shooting. Her attorney, Don Flanary, told NBC News that the confusion has added to Marin’s trauma. Fortunately, she was not injured during the shooting.
“She is not well psychologically. She is a wreck,” he said. “She’s been to her doctor and she’s continuing to receive treatment. It’s going to be a long road ahead, as it is for so many other people.”
The focus is on how Daniel Defense markets its rifles. Can Daniel Defense be sued for how it markets its rifles?
Marin’s filing also requests information about the Daniel Defense AR-15 style rifles that authorities said were found in the hotel room of the gunman who committed the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, to see if the company did anything differently in its marketing after that massacre.
“Everybody knows that school shootings are happening. It’s an epidemic. So we want to know, what are they doing to change their marketing practices?” Flanary said.
Specifically, he added, when it comes to the Uvalde gunman, “we’re trying to investigate, did they market to this person? Did they do something that caused him to want to buy the gun, when he just shouldn’t have? And that’s what we’re really concerned about.
This approach may be due to a landmark $73M settlement in February by relatives of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims from that mass shooting in 2012 in Connecticut. The court petition is very similar to that case. Remington was the gun manufacturer in that shooting and the relatives claimed the company irresponsibly marketed the weapon to at-risk young men.
A second potential lawsuit is also in the making. The father of 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza is seeking information from Daniel Defense on marketing. His attorney is with the law firm that sued Remington in the Sandy Hook case.
For its part, Daniel Defense has a brief statement on its website. It pops up when you access the website.
Daniel Defense, which did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the Uvalde court filing, has a statement on its website saying that it is “deeply saddened by the recent tragic events in Texas” and that “our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and community devastated by this evil act.”
Daniel Defense’s marketing techniques are described as controversial. I imagine “controversial” is in the eye of the beholder.
Days before the shooting, the Georgia-based company tweeted a provocative image of a toddler holding an assault-style weapon with the caption: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
That tweet has since been deleted, along with the Bible verse.
There will be a lot of lawsuits before all of this is over. Daniel Defense isn’t the only one that will be sued. Look for the City of Uvalde, the school district, and probably the school board to be sued, too. The first of the legal actions being against Daniel Defense proves how out of touch Joe Biden was when he claims that gun manufacturers have immunity and can’t be sued. He said they are the “only” such manufacturers who have that level of immunity. Wrong.
This is ridiculously false. Firearm manufacturers are no more “shielded from liability” than any other manufacturer for liability from defective products.
You know who isn’t? Big Pharma. https://t.co/XrXsscS2QT
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) June 3, 2022
Vaccine manufacturers, auto manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, any government agency ever. Try again, old man.
— June (@junebotprolly) June 3, 2022
Biden is likely referring to the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,(PLCAA), a federal law that shields manufacturers from being held liable for the “misuse of firearms by third parties, including criminals.” There are exceptions to the law, though, including violations of state law. Each state has a version of consumer protection laws. Whether or not the same tactic that worked in Connecticut will work in Texas remains to be seen.