Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff’s son, Jordan Garris, was killed by a handgun, which was manufactured by Sturn, Ruger & Co. (Defendant). Plaintiff sued Defendant for products liability.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Generally, gun makers are only liable when their products malfunction. However, there is a limited category of handguns, which clearly are not sanctioned as a matter of public policy.
We have consistently recognized that common law principles should not be changed contrary to the public policy of the State set forth by the General Assembly of Maryland.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is Defendant liable to Plaintiff for products liability for the manufacturing of a gun, which killed Plaintiff’s son?
Held. No. Judgment affirmed.
* Generally, gun makers are only liable when their products malfunction, but there is a limited category of handguns which clearly are not sanctioned as a matter of public policy.
* Guns characterized by short barrels, low weight, easy concealability, cheap quality, inaccuracy, and unreliability renders them particularly attractive for criminal use but virtually useless for any legitimate purpose. These types of guns are in a separate category and their use for criminal purposes is entirely foreseeable by their manufacturers and marketers.
* In this case, the gun was not the type of gun that fit into the exception. It was a lawful weapon and was lawfully sold. The gun did not malfunction in any way.
* What caused this tragedy was the carelessness of Plaintiff, who left the weapon and the magazine in places where the child was able to find them, in contravention not only of common sense but also of multiple warnings given to him at the time of purchase.
Discussion. Plaintiff did not follow common sense or any of the warnings associated with gun ownership. There is no design defect, because the gun operated exactly as designed. The death of Plaintiff’s son was not a “reasonably foreseeable use,” because the gun is not a type of gun that is normally associated with criminal activity.