Court rules N.Y. shooting victim can sue gun maker, distributor

By Daniel Wiessner

ALBANY, N.Y., Oct 5 (Reuters) - A Buffalo man who was shotnearly a decade ago can sue the manufacturer, the distributorand the dealer of the semi-automatic pistol used to shoot him, aNew York state appeals court ruled on Friday.

Attorneys for Daniel Williams, who was shot in 2003 when hewas in high school, argued that Ohio-based manufacturerBeemiller and the distributor, MKS Supply, violated federal lawby knowingly supplying guns to irresponsible dealers.

The defendants said they cannot be sued because of thefederal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 lawthat shields firearm manufacturers and sellers from liabilityfor harm caused by the criminal misuse of their non-defectiveproducts.

A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, FourthDepartment, on Friday reversed a 2011 ruling that threw out thecase against the defendants - Beemiller, MKS Supply and gundealer Charles Brown, who sold the guns to James Bostic, aBuffalo resident accused of running a trafficking scheme thatfunneled guns into the black market in New York.

The decision reinstates the case.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which isrepresenting Williams, claims Bostic is a convicted felon and isbarred from purchasing guns, according to the ruling.

The center said Bostic traveled to Ohio, which does notrequire a license to buy a gun, to procure a large numbers ofhandguns, including the pistol used to shoot Williams, theruling said.

"Although the complaint does not specify the statutesallegedly violated (by the defendants), it sufficiently allegesfacts supporting a finding that defendants knowingly violatedfederal gun laws," Justice Erin Peradotto wrote for the court.

Jeffrey Malsch, a lawyer for MKS, said he is reviewing thedecision.

"We believe (the lower court's ruling) was a courageous andlegally correct decision, but the Fourth Department wasunwilling to follow his well reasoned opinion," he said."Whether we appeal or not, we are confident that ultimately thefacts will contradict the baseless allegations in the complaintand the case will be dismissed."

Attorneys for Williams and the remaining defendants did notimmediately return requests for comment.

(Reporting By Daniel Wiessner; Editing by Noeleen Walder andXavier Briand)