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City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson Corp.

801 N.E.2d 1222 (2003)

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City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson Corp.

Indiana Supreme Court

801 N.E.2d 1222 (2003)

Facts

In 1999 the city of Gary, Indiana (the city) (plaintiff) filed public-nuisance and negligence claims in state court against Smith & Wesson Corporation and other handgun manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors (collectively, the gun companies) (defendants). The city sought money damages and injunctive relief on the ground that the gun companies engaged in straw purchases resulting in guns sold to illegal buyers and an increase in gun violence. The city also argued that the gun companies had negligently designed the handguns by not including adequate safety measures. The gun companies filed motions to dismiss. The gun companies argued that the city failed to establish a public-nuisance claim because the gun companies had not violated a statute or misused real property. The gun companies argued that the city had failed to establish negligence because it could not demonstrate that the gun companies, rather than intervening third parties, were the proximate cause of the public’s injuries. The gun companies also argued that the city was barred from recovering damages under the municipal-cost doctrine. The trial court accepted the gun companies’ arguments and granted the motions to dismiss. The matter was appealed. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision to dismiss for all claims except the public-nuisance claim. The matter was appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Boehm, J.)

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