Wednesday, July 25, 2012
C.A. Reinstates Part of Ex-Officer’s Suit Against Gunmaker
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A former Los Angeles police officer who was paralyzed by a gunshot after his 3-year-old son picked up his service revolver may sue the manufacturer for strict products liability, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday.
Div. Seven, in an opinion by Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss, said an expert’s opinion that the Glock 21 pistol was defective because its “light trigger pull,” spring-loaded-to-fire striker, and lack of any manual safety or grip safety typically found on other pistols created an unnecessary and dangerous risk of accidental discharge, was sufficient to create a triable issue of fact.
Enrique Chavez, the presiding justice said, is entitled to proceed on his design defect and breach-of-implied warranty theories against Glock and the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, which sold the gun. The court, however, said those defendants were entitled to summary adjudication on Chavez’s failure-to-warn claim because the officer, as a “sophisticated user,” knew enough about gun safety to store the weapon properly.
Chavez testified that the gun was holstered and under the seat of his vehicle when the child, who was in the back seat, apparently grabbed it. The child was riding in the back of the vehicle because Chavez had to take him to the home of Chavez’s father, who was going to have to watch the child because the officer had just been called and told he had to go to court.
Placing the child in the back was safer than placing him in the front seat, the officer explained, due to fear of airbag deployment. He was not secured in a car seat, Chavez explained, because it had been left in his wife’s car.
Chavez sued the maker and seller of the holster, as well as Glock and the Revolver Club, on the theory that the gun should have been concealed. But the Court of Appeal agreed with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile that there was no triable claim against those defendants under the consumer-expectations test, because the holster worked exactly as Chavez would have expected it to.
Glock and the Revolver Club argued, as Perluss put it, “that they had no duty to design a firearm that an unsupervised three-year-old could safely play with when left loaded and unsecured by a trained police officer who had ignored every warning and instruction he had read about firearm storage safety.” But those arguments went to the weight of the evidence and did not establish that the claim was barred as a matter of law, the said.
The case is Chavez v. Glock, Inc., 12 S.O.S. 3669.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company