A California jury has found a firearms manufacturer partially liable in the accidental injury and crippling of a young boy in a unique court ruling against a gun maker.
An Alameda County jury found Bryco Arms largely responsible for the injury of Brandon Maxfield, now 16, of Willits, nine years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday.
According to the paper, Brandon was shot in the jaw April 6, 1994. He and a 12-year-old relative were being watched by a family friend who was living with them in their home temporarily.
The Chronicle reported the 12-year-old believed some adult had asked him to get the gun out. When he did, according to the defense attorney in the case, the 20-year-old baby sitter – Larry William Moreford II – took the pistol from the boy. In the process of unloading it, he shot Brandon in the jaw.
“He was trying to unload the gun,” said Richard Ruggieri, Brandon’s attorney. “In order to do that, he had to put it on ‘fire.’ The gun slipped in his hand and it went off. This was not a ‘child playing with a gun’ type of situation.”
Ruggieri said the family was “pleased but reserved” about the $50.9 million verdict, while acknowledging it could be some time before Brandon sees any money, if ever.
The jury must first decide what part of the damages each defendant is responsible to pay, said Ruggieri. Two of the defendants in the case are Brandon’s parents, as well as Moreford.
Also throwing the verdict in doubt is the probability of an appeal. Assuming Brandon wins that appeal, he will still have to collect the money from defendants, which could also be a problem because of a bill passed last month by the U.S. House of Representatives protecting gun makers from liability.
If passed into law in its current form, the bill – backed by the National Rifle Association – would eliminate almost all civil liability for gun makers, as WorldNetDaily reported earlier.
Ruggieri said the bill may not affect Brandon’s case, but he admitted he was concerned about its ramifications.
“We’re certainly concerned with it,” Ruggieri said. “It would be a human tragedy if something like that would block something like this.”
And, the defense attorney told the paper, the case isn’t about attacking gun rights.
“This trial is not about the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms,” he said. “This is just a case about Brandon.”