The Nevada Supreme Court should decide whether gun manufacturers can be found negligent and held responsible for wrongful death in the Las Vegas massacre, a federal judge has decided.
The parents of Carrie Parsons, a Seattle woman killed in the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting, sued gun-makers, accusing them of skirting federal and Nevada law by creating and selling weapons that could easily be modified to shoot automatic fire.
“This case presents important public policy concerns that should be addressed by the Nevada court,” U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon wrote.
He added that he was “particularly concerned” by the gun-maker’s interpretation of a law that would “immunize even a defendant that manufactured and sold Tommy guns or M-16 rifles to civilians.”
The complaint against Colt’s Manufacturing and seven other businesses, which centered on historical gun laws and a federal ban on machine guns, alleged that the companies continually chose “profits over public safety,” making rifles that could be modified “within minutes, if not seconds” without any technical expertise.
Gunman Stephen Paddock used a bump stock attachment on semiautomatic weapons to increase the firing capacity on his rifles, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800 at the Route 91 Harvest festival. He opened fire from a suite on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay.
Lawyers for Colt could not be reached Tuesday.
The Parsons suit was the first that targeted a gun-maker.
Among the questions Gordon wants the state’s high court to answer: “Under Nevada law, can a plaintiff assert a negligence per se claim predicated on violations of criminal federal and state machine gun prohibitions absent evidence of legislative intent to impose civil liability?”
He also asked whether state law would allow a plaintiff to file a wrongful death claim against firearms-makers and dealers who are accused of knowingly violating federal and state machine gun prohibitions.
In October, MGM Resorts International and lawyers representing thousands of shooting victims reached a settlement valued at between $735 million and $800 million. MGM operates Mandalay Bay.