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January 24, 2006

Mississippi Supreme Court Holds Handgun Seller Not Liable for Accidental Handgun Discharge

In Williams v. Bennett, ___ So. 2d ___  (Miss. 2006 [Docket No. 2005-CA-00754-SCT]) |Lexis| the Mississippi Supreme Court held that a plaintiff whose Lorcin .380 handgun, safety off, accidentally fell out of the door of his vehicle and discharged, hitting him in the leg, was not entitled to recover against a pawn shop operator who at one point had sold the gun, although not to the plaintiff. 

The plaintiff's theory was that the handgun was defectively designed.  The Mississippi Products Liability Act requires a plaintiff asserting a design defect claim to prove that "[t]he manufacturer or seller knew, or in light of reasonably available knowledge or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, about the danger that caused the damage for which recovery is sought," and that [t]he product failed to function as expected and there existed a feasible design alternative that would have to a reasonable probability prevented the harm." 

While the proof in the case established that the plaintiff owned a handgun that the defendant had sold, there was no proof in the record that the seller, if he was considered a handgun seller for purposes of the statute, had knowledge or should have had knowledge of the danger that caused the plaintiff's injury.  There was no proof of the condition of the handgun at any point in the chain of ownership and there was no proof concerning a feasible alternative design.

MKS

January 24, 2006 | Permalink

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