JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2006/03/this-is-why-im-member-of-nra.html (15 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1142624224-354616  Sarah at Fri, 17 Mar 2006 19:37:04 +0000

So why wasn't that department just as liable as Glock? Why wasn't it a party to the lawsuit?

I know that a lot of this has to do with punishing gun manufacturers, but don't underestimate the lure of easy money. If I remember my Bloom County correctly, Steve Dallas said that the first rule of litigation is to never, ever sue people who have no money. Also, never sue hotheads who might beat you up. You should always sue gigantic companies with barrels of liquid cash.

jsid-1142629072-354621  Cowboy Blob at Fri, 17 Mar 2006 20:57:52 +0000

a Glock 9 mm handgun, a Norinco short-barreled rifle and a Bushmaster rifle.

Was it a Norinco carbine, or a federally regulated SBR? I'll bet it was the former.

jsid-1142644615-354651  tomWright at Sat, 18 Mar 2006 01:16:55 +0000

My argument with the NRA over this law was tactical. THey could have eliminated much of the opposition if they had made it applicable to all products, like car, kitchen knives, or anything else that can be misused.

By limiting it to guns, they left up a big target for opposition.

jsid-1142645305-354653  Kevin Baker at Sat, 18 Mar 2006 01:28:25 +0000

Other products weren't being targeted. Only guns. As Eugene Volokh put it

"Why does the gun industry deserve special protection?" asked Dennis Henigan, legal director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, about the bill that would limit gun manufacturer tort liability, which it seems, might be enacted by Congress. Because the gun industry is under special attack.

If when someone drunk on Coors crashes his Mustang into me, I were able to successfully sue Coors and Ford for selling their products knowing that they cause death, or for recklessly and wantonly refusing to (for instance) install breathalyzer ignition overrides that would (maybe) help prevent drunk driving, then I'd see the bill as being about "special protection" (though then I'd just want it broadened to cars and alcohol, too). But right now, the bill is simply aimed at making sure that the tort liability system treats guns like other lawful but dangerous products.

jsid-1142654493-354670  Heartless Libertarian at Sat, 18 Mar 2006 04:01:33 +0000

Dumb question about Norinco not being a "licensed firearm manufacturer."

IIRC, Norinco was barred from selling guns in the US during the Clinton administration. I'd venture a guess that prior to that, they were licensed. No point in renewing the license if you're not allowed to sell what you make.

You want a fun strategy: get a monetary judgement against Norinco. Then, when they don't pay, get them declared in contempt, with a judgement that no products made by Chinese companies owned all or in part by the Chinese government can be imported until the judgement is paid.

jsid-1142655403-354671  Kevin Baker at Sat, 18 Mar 2006 04:16:43 +0000

Wal*Mart would have to close its doors!

(The Arkansas mafia would get you long before the judgement was handed down...);-)

jsid-1142680338-354694  Arni at Sat, 18 Mar 2006 11:12:18 +0000

Color me stupid, but what the hell is a "pocket rocket"?

jsid-1142689490-354695  Kevin Baker at Sat, 18 Mar 2006 13:44:50 +0000

Well, a pocket rocket could be this, or it could be one of these, but the Violence Policy Center says:

Because the term "pocket rocket" is an invention of gun industry marketing, there is no standard definition. However, advertising and articles in gun fan magazines regularly stress two salient points about this class of handgun:

* They are small enough to be easily concealed (often illustrated by a picture of a gun nestled in the palm of a hand).

* They feature higher caliber—and thus greater wounding power—than other pistols of comparable size.

jsid-1142699227-354716  Standard Mischief at Sat, 18 Mar 2006 16:27:07 +0000

To deflect criticism, there seems to have been a similar bill in the pipeline to protect fast food from frivolous lawsuits. I have no idea if that passed. I'd imagine that there's too much money in frivolous lawsuits to get a law passed stopping idiot misuse of cars, baseball bats, knives, etc. What are them congress-critters? Mostly lawyers. They know what butters their bread.

Although I want the NRA to press for less laws, not more, this was a good law, even if it's special vanity legislation. But when the hell are they gonna get me some rights back? I want Vermont.

But someone should look at the auto industry. Their practice of making cosmetic changes and total redesigns after a few years is driving a secondary market in used autos. Think about the sleazy used car salesman. Heck, think of the children! We've got to sue the car makers into submission, only rich people ought to be able to afford to drive!

jsid-1142702058-354723  markm at Sat, 18 Mar 2006 17:14:18 +0000

I would much prefer a blanket protection for all products against silly lawsuits to creating a series of special cases (small aircraft several years ago, guns now, fast food next year, doctors and drug companies pretty soon), but reforming all tort law is a much, much bigger issue than has a chance of getting through Congress and still making sense.

But if we could dream, federal tort law should:

1) Re-instate personal responsibility as a primary principal - no one can sue others for their own screwups. And make this cover dodges such as having your wife sue you or a third party who is allegedly responsible for you. (Case in point: a city employee in Lodi, CA ran a city truck into his own car. When the city rejected his claim for damages to the car, he had his wife resubmit it as the half-owner of the car.)

2) Have a loser pays provision, with some real teeth. If you threaten a lawsuit and then withdraw once you hear from your target's lawyer, you have to pay for that lawyer and the target's time spent consulting with the lawyer. If you name every doctor in the hospital in a malpractice suit and depend on them to dig out the evidence to trim it down to the doctor actually responsible, you get to pay for ALL the others' lawyers and time. If a law firm takes a case on contingency and loses or withdraws and their client can't pay, the law firm will have to.

3) End jurisdiction shopping: If a manufacturer's primary location is in another state, you can only sue in federal court under federal laws. (If a state wants to write tort laws and run its courts so as to bankrupt all local manufacturers, that's their privilege, and they'll suffer the consequences.)

4) I was going to also suggest also allowing manufacturers to label their products as "not for sale in ...", and to disallow any product liability suits from the listed areas, so mfgs can cut off jurisdictions that are notoriously unfair, but I think #3 makes this unnecessary.

jsid-1142781573-354784  DJ at Sun, 19 Mar 2006 15:19:33 +0000

Mark, I've proposed for years that a "loser pays" tort system be adopted. The core of my proposal has been that the loser of a suit pays the court costs and attorney fees of the winner, but the amount he pays to the winner is limited to the amount he pays for his own case. Thus, each side has a vested interest in limiting its own costs, which thereby limits its own liability, and a wealthy litigant cannot drown or harass the other side with the threat of huge expenses.

But, the difficulty with this is two-fold: 1) there is no easy way to compute the expenses of the losing side so as to compute the cap on its liability to the other side when the losing side's attorneys work on a contingency fee basis (which is another discussion entirely); and, 2) a winning defendant might legitimately require considerable expenses to prevail in a nuisance suit, while the losing plaintiff might incur very little cost to bring and prosecute the losing complaint.

It doesn't quite solve the problem, does it? I still rassle with the notion.

Several attorneys I have worked with believe the real problem is that a case is decided by a jury filled with people who aren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

jsid-1142877689-354915  markm at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 18:01:29 +0000

DK: Yes, they ought to pay jurors $400 a day (equivalent to $100K/year), so bright people with not so great jobs would be vying to get on the jury instead of faking prejudice to get thrown out. Of course, this will add to the costs that the loser will have to pay, but maybe it will encourage judges and lawyers to look at ways to efficiently use the jury's time.

E.g., videotape all testimony, get all the arguments over admissibility, etc., done, and empanel a jury only when you are ready to present just the tapes + lawyers' summations. This not only saves jurors' and courtroom time, but usually it will be obvious whose going to win before the jury is called, so there's a lot of reason to settle or drop the case before the costs double.

How to figure costs on contingency cases? Billable hours * the firms normal rate. If the client agreed to pay more, that's not something the court needs to consider. Have the jury sort it out if there's a dispute. Make the default rule that the loser pays court costs and the winner's legal costs up to the loser's costs, but allow juries to deviate from this with good reason. If the plaintiff's lawyer just filled out a form and mailed it to the court while the defendant had to dig out evidence, that's a good reason. Another good reason to deviate comes from a British libel suit in the 1960's: the author and publisher of a book about the Great Train Robbery were sued by a man who was serving time for that robbery. Allegedly, due to certain peculiarities of British law, the jury had to find for the robber - but they also determined that the damage to his reputation was worth 1 shilling (that's pocket change), and awarded the costs (thousands of pounds) to the defendants. Law and justice were both served - if anyone ever figured out how to collect the costs award from an unsuccessful train robber...

jsid-1142884162-354947  DJ at Mon, 20 Mar 2006 19:49:22 +0000


E.g., videotape all testimony, get all the arguments over admissibility, etc., done, and empanel a jury only when you are ready to present just the tapes + lawyers' summations. This not only saves jurors' and courtroom time, but usually it will be obvious whose going to win before the jury is called, so there's a lot of reason to settle or drop the case before the costs double.

Overall, I agree. Your videotaping scheme also saves the jury from seeing the theatrics that were objected to and sustained.

jsid-1143688238-356218  MARd33 at Thu, 30 Mar 2006 03:10:38 +0000

Stuuf like this makes it hard for good gun owners...

Pisses me off
Three Dead, Two Injured in Shooting at Denny's in California

jsid-1143690369-356220  Kevin Baker at Thu, 30 Mar 2006 03:46:09 +0000

So do acts like this but they're hardly our fault.

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