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Hetherton v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
593 F.2d 526 (1979)
Lloyd Fullman, Jr. was a convicted felon. Fullman went to a Sears, Roebuck & Co. (Sears) (defendant) in Delaware and purchased a rifle and ammunition. A Delaware statute required that any person purchasing a deadly weapon give the name of two freeholders living in the county where the purchase is made who can positively identify the purchaser. Under the statute, a deadly weapon includes pistols, revolvers, and revolver and pistol cartridges, among other things. The cartridges that Fullman bought were labeled as rifle ammunition, but they could also be used in pistols and revolvers. Sears did not require Fullman to produce the names of two freeholders for positive identification. Six weeks later, Fullman robbed a restaurant. During the robbery, Fullman shot a security guard, James Hetherton (plaintiff), in the head. Hetherton was seriously injured. Fullman was apprehended and convicted of several crimes. Hetherton and his wife sued Sears for negligence, alleging that by failing to follow the Delaware statute requiring identification by two freeholders, Sears was negligent in selling the rifle and ammunition to Fullman. Sears argued that the ammunition it sold to Fullman was labeled for use with rifles, and therefore did not fall within the identification requirements for deadly weapons. Sears moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment. Hetherton appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Higginbotham, J.)
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