A Fulton County, Georgia mom sued the owner of the shop where she purchased her gun 14 years ago, following an incident at home where her 14-year-old son was accidentally shot and killed. She sued for $6 million and won.
A Fulton County, Georgia, jury has awarded $6 million to a mother whose 14-year-old son was accidentally shot and killed when the boy’s sister dropped a pistol on the dining room table.
The pistol belonged to the mother, Linda Bullard, who had purchased it from Shurlington Jewelry and Pawn 14 years ago.
The $6 million judgement is against the pawn store’s owner, Ronald Richardson.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Richardson was “a family friend” whom Bullard trusted “to steer her in the right direction” when she purchased her first gun for home defense. He sold her a Bryco/Jennings that he had “in bulk” and could sell cheaply.
After buying the gun Bullard had trouble with a jam and returned it to Richardson to have it cleared. At the time he couldn’t clear it — which meant the live round remained — so he told Bullard to come back on Monday because his “gun guy” would be able to clear it. In the interim, he returned the pistol to Bullard “in a zipped case.”
Later that same day Bullard’s 21-year-old daughter “dropped the gun as she was putting her purse and other items on the dining room table.” The live round discharged and hit her 14-year-old brother in the stomach, killing him.
The jury deliberated seven hours and decided “that Richardson owed Bullard $6 million.”
When I first read the headline, I thought it would be a case similar to hypothetically suing a liquor store for selling alcohol to a customer who later killed another person while driving drunk. It wouldn’t be the liquor store’s fault that the customer got drunk and went out driving. The responsibility would fall squarely on the shoulders of the guy who decided to drive drunk.
This case is a little bit more complicated than that. I think the owner of the gun shop is at least partially responsible for returning a malfunctioning gun with a live round still in the chamber, when he should have at least advised the gun owner to leave the gun with him until it’s fixed, or have it locked up in a safe at home where no one else can have access to it.
But what was it doing on the dining room table? I think that while the shop owner was irresponsible, the gun-owning mother was more irresponsible by leaving it out in the open for anyone. What do you think?