Families of victims killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting have asked a Florida court to provide clarity on a state law before advancing a lawsuit against Smith & Wesson.
The lawsuit filed in Broward County Circuit Court asks the court to rule that the families would not face potential financial ruin by bringing a case against the gun maker’s parent company American Outdoor Brands and gun store Sunrise Tactical Supply, which sold the rifle the gunman used in the attack.
The confusion stems from Florida Statute 790.331 which prohibits government bodies from suing gun industry businesses for damages over issues involving lawful commerce. Also, the law directs the court to award “all attorney’s fees, costs and compensation for loss of income, and expenses incurred as a result of such action.”
The plaintiffs in the case — Fred and Jennifer Guttenbergs and Max Schachter — want a judge to either declare that the law does not block them from collecting damages — or to declare the law unconstitutional, The Sun-Sentinel reports.
Details about charges the families want to bring against the defendants are unclear. As of publishing this article, neither the case docket nor court documents were available through the Broward County Court’s database. But the plaintiffs and their attorneys told reporters they’re hoping their lawsuit will help undo the 2001 law.
The 19-year-old gunman who opened fire at the high school in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14 bought a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle legally a year before the shooting. He used the rifle to murder 17 people — including Jaime Guttenberg and Alex Schacther — and injure 15 others.