Thursday, May 12, 2016
Paralyzed Ex-LAPD Officer Settles With Gunmaker
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Attorneys for a gun manufacturer and a retired LAPD officer who was paralyzed when his 3-year-old son accidentally fired the officer’s handgun while riding in the family truck told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger yesterday a settlement was reached in the ex-lawman’s lawsuit.
Mynewsla.com, citing wire reports, said the announcement came as the judge was about to begin the process of selecting a jury for trial of the lawsuit brought in July 2008 by Enrique Chavez and his wife, Leonora Aduna Chavez, against Glock Inc. and the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, which sold the gun to the officer.
No settlement terms were disclosed.
Chavez was injured in 2006 after his 3-year-old son, seated behind him in Chavez’s personal vehicle, picked up the officer’s service revolver, which discharged.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile granted summary judgment to the defendants in 2010, rejecting the plaintiff’s theories of failure to warn, strict liability based on design defect, and breach of implied warranty.
Chavez and his counsel argued that the manufacturer had a duty to warn that the Glock 21 pistol should only be used with specific holsters that restrict access to the trigger guard in light of its “light trigger pull” and lack of a manual safety device.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial judge on that claim, saying the officer, as a “sophisticated user,” knew enough about gun safety to store the weapon properly.
The court, however, allowed Chavez to proceed on his other theories. Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss said an expert’s opinion that the gun was defective because its spring-loaded-to-fire striker, trigger pull, 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.
Whether Glock was correct that it 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” was a question for the jury, Perluss said in the 2012 opinion.
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 said, because it had been left in his wife’s car.
Chavez also sued the maker and seller of the holster, on the theory that the gun should have been concealed. But the Court of Appeal agreed with 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.
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