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COLLECTION:
     Clinton Presidential records
     Domestic Policy Council
     Bruce Reed (Crime)
     OAlBox Number: 21552
FOLDER TITLE:
     Guns-Lawsuits


                                                                                                                                                    rs21
                                                                  RESTRICTION CODES 

Presidential Records Act - [44 U.S.C. 2204(a)]                             Freedom of Information Act - [5 U.S.C. 552(b)]

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                          THE WHITE HOUSE
                             Wi\SHINGTOi'l



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'02i15/99   MON 20:57 FAX 202 514 2504                 DOJ INTERGOVERNNENTAL                                     ~002




                                               Hamilton v. Aeeu-Tek

        (prepared by: Charles Simon, 514-3465)

               hi Hamilton 'V. Accu-Tek,. eight plaintiffs (on behalfof seven individuals who were killed
        or wounded by illegally-obtained guns) filed a wrongful death action against numerous gun
        manufacturers and gun distributors. Although Judge Weinstein significantly limited the
        plaintiffs' possible theories of liabilityl, he did leave them with a negligent marketing and
        distribution claim against the gun manufacturers, based on the contention that the gun
        manufacturers deliberately saturated the market for guns and helped to create an underground
        market for the w~apons.2 (These claims are based on a collective theory of liability. in the same
        manner as prior cases associated with asbestos, Agent Orange, the dalkon shield, and DES.)

                  With respect to all seven of the shooting victims, the jury concluded that 15 of 25 gun
        manufacturers named as defendants in the suit had marketed or distributed handguns neglige;o.tly
        (that is, failed to "exercise 'reasonable care' in marketing and distr:ibuting [their] product, to the
        extent [they had] control, so as to take precautions against creating foreseeable risks of injuryH).

                Of the 15 manufacturers found negligent, nine were found by the jury to have
        proximately ,caused (that is. to have been a "substantial factor in bringing about") one or more of
        three ofthe shootings. (With respect to the other four shootings, the jury did not find that any of
        the 15 negligent manufacturers had proximately caused the shooting.)

                In what appeared to be a compromise verdict, the jury found that mO,netary damages had
        been sustained by tlle plaintiffs in only ~ ofthe three shootings where proximate causation was
        established. Damages were calculated at $4,000,000 for the one shooting victim and his mother.
        However. the actual liability (that is, the actual amount to be paid to the plaintiffs) of the three
        negligent gun manufacturers who were found to have caused the related injuries was only
        approximately $500,000. This discrepancy arises because actual liability was measured
        according to the relevant defentWIts' national market shares for the handgun or class of
        handguns used in the shooting.3

               It is unclear whether the verdict will survive appellate review, because the Second Circuit
        recently rejected a similar cause of action brought against ammunition manufacturers.


                lIn 1996,the court dismissed plaintiffs' product liability claims. The court also found that
        the plaintiffs could not bring a claim for selling a dangerous instrumentality. In addition, Judge
        Weinstein dismissed plaintiffs' ultrahazardous or abnormally dangerous activity theories.

                2The market share collective liability theory relieved the plaintiffs from having to prove
        that a specific gun manufacturer made and distributc;:d the particular weapon that caused the
        particular injury in question.

               3The total percentage of liability assessed against the tbreerelevant defendants was only
        13% ($500,000 is about 13% of the $4.000,000 total damage ca1culation), because the jury
        apparently found that some manufacturers with relevant market share were not defendants at all
                                      THE WHITE H,OU5E
                                          WASHINGTON




                                         November 9, 1998


MEMORANDUM FOR BRUCE REED

CC:                    JOSE CERDA

FROM:                  SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL(7?f

SUBJECT:               CLASS ACTION ON GUNS


I've enclosed an article and press release about the new effort to file class actions suits against
gun manufacturers. I think this is a very promising idea. Let's talk about it soon.
                                                                      I
                                         2028874778                                   COALE COOLEY                                       PAGE    02 





nos Ang~lts                                                                                                         mlm~5
-
   !
          New Orleans                                          FRIDAY. OCTOBER 30, 1998
                                                              c;oPYlUQIT 19\11V1l1'E 11i'tES M_~~OIl C:OMPIIJII\'




          IsE~pected
         ·toSueGun
          Manufacturers
         • Courts: Lawyers who fought
         tobacco firms are now helping
         cities take on a new industry with
          liability and negligence suits.
                                                                                                                     legal use of OLlt' products."
          By MYRON LEVIN
          TllIIIIS 5TAPP ...,UTER
                                                                       GUNS                                            After tobacco and firear~.
                                                                                                                     "certainly the alcohol industry is
                                                                       Coallaued from Cl 
                           just around the comer for them~
            New Or\elU)S is expected to rile /I massive                                                              target." Adkins saiel, "Where
          product liabili~y and negligence lawsuit
                                                                       Costa Mesa, was not returned, 

                                                                         But an official with a fi~nn8              , this process atop?"      .'
          against major handgun makers toctay,         ~he
                                                                       trade asSociation called the suit "a             SaDie 36,000 Americans 'die ~
           opening salvo 1:0 a campaign against the                                                                   gunfire every year. and in seve
           gun industry by an alliance of anti-tobacco                 ihamefwuae of the courts."
           attorneys and locallOvernmel'/ts.                             Jack Adkins, directot' of op­                attHea, Induellng Californi.
               Tne suit, whleh will be announced by                    eraUons for the American Shooting              authorities Bay the death toll
           New Orleana Mayor MaX'( Morla.!. WiU nlUDe                  Sp0r't.8 Council, which Is also ex­          . gunfire exceeds that from a
            10 manufactW'ers, Induding five SouLhem                    pected to be named in the suit, said.          accidents. Most of these re8u.lt
           California firma that ma.lte the cheap hand·                he could not address the specifics            ,street Violence, although In 19
           guns known as Saturday night ·Gpecials,                     of the <:aSe before he had seen the            accidental shootings of chi!
           ~d John Coale, a Wilshington attomey                        lawsuiL But pe callecllt an attempt            and teen lIulcldes a.ccounted
           lirho is part of a natIonwide consortium of                 "to ahUt responsibility for the U·             about 1.900 deaths nationwide.
           law nl"T\l8 that hu nled two doien cluB­
           action suits against tobac.eo eompanies.
               Coale said th~ suit will accWM! sun
           mQkers of failing to in(OlJKlrate safety
           LtlChnology to prevent accidental shCIQlinp
         . II,nd of satW'aUn, the market wilh more
           guns \han eould possibly be boulht by lllga.!
           pl.ltehasers-lhus a.uuring that tena of
           thousands of fir~an1\S will wind up In the .
           banda of juveniles and crooks.
               New Orleans, Coale added. "will be the·
           finn of many cities" to sue In Ule next reV(
           mol'l~ with the help of the Castano group,
           a natlDl'lwtde consortium of law firms. and
           ~e National Center to Prevent Handgun
           Violence. The other cities Wllr! nol identi.
         fiecl, 

            "We're going to do to this IIrhat we did to 

         .UJb.!ilcg)," he Said. ntrs going to ~ a verY 

         large wa.r.'·              ..
             The Castano gt'tU.lP, named rCl1' the lead
         .plaintiff in one anLl-ttlbaccQ caM, baa filed
          c:1aa8-a.etlon suits IIgainsl clg.:al"etle makers
          on bebalf of millions of a.!leSedly addIcte4
          IImoklJ'll. The cues are pending in "Vious
         lltates.
            Arn0ns the firms to be named in ·Ute suit
         are Loftlll J:qI......... 81')'1:0' A..., 1••­
         ......._.l:1li\   Anu aI'ld Da.... IMutrta
         .,roducers of Iow-cD\ll handSUrlil !.bat    gun':"
         conu:01 .~vocates have dubbed the         "R.iJli
         of Fire companil!!!l beeal.\.lKl their plants
         partly eru;:i.rcle Lea Angeles. An attorney
         for Lorcln, whicl! is baaed in Ml.ra Loma'
         dec.Uned to comment. and a caJl to Bryco, of:
                                 Pl..... - GUNS, CC
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                                                                                                                  mile Wasbblgton post
                                                                                                                    : FRIDAY. NOYEldBERJ,f'        1998
  ).~

 J/'
.~ Chicago Files Suit Against Gun Manufacturers·
                                                                                                                                                                          dors with city addresses, or posed as have to ask the manufacturers: 'Why
                                                                                                                                                                          "straw buyers" purchasing multiple are you making this 3Jl1!llunition that
                                                                                                                                                                          weapons £or a convicted felon or can go through [a police officer's)
                                                                                                                                                                          someone eJse legally prohibited from vest?' ;, Daley said.
      By JON JETER'                          gun violenCe that is modeled after the   mine which strategywou1d work best       marketing and distribution of weap- doing so.                                       Gun dealers here argued that it
      Wa.shington ~s' ~taJJ Writer           campaign by states that sued tobacco     under varying state laws.                ons to city residents is tantamount to        It is a crime to OWn a handgun'in is unreasonable for them to refuse
                                             milkers-torecotip public health-COStS - "ClearlY, the gun industJ:y is under-     apubHc nuisance; ~imiIar to an indus-- 'Chieago.-While nis neither Ii -Crime­ to seD a  goo     t~a buyer oecauSehe' .
          CHICAGO, Nov. 12....,.The city resulting from smoking.                      attack on a new front," said Dennis      trial plant that pollutes a city's drink- to sell a gun to aChicago resident nor-
                                               New 'Orleans filed the first' such' Henigan. legal director for the Center                                                                                        plans to uSe the gun illegally'.
       of Chicago sued gun manufactur-                                                                                         ingwater.            .'      _        ' . to a straw buyer, dealers were aware
       ers and local gun, shops for $4~3 . anti-gun suit last month. accusing 15 to Prevent Handgun Violence and an               "Our complaint is not that the gun that the guns were intended for illicit       "What could any retailer know
       million today, charging the indus- arms manufacturers whose failure to adviser to New Orleans and Chi~                  doesn't work or. is defective," said purposes when they sold them. city           what. someone is going to do With a
     . try armed drug dealers, gang mem- . install adequate safety features," the officials. Chicago's 1($11 approach          Brian Crow. the city's clUef lawyer. .officials contend, and were negligent    gun'    when they. walk out of the
       bers and other felons in a city , city contended, makes the weapons differed from New Orleans' strategy                 "It works too weD."                        to do so. .                  .
        door," John Riggio; the owner of
       where nearly 500 people die each "unreasonably dangerous."                   . and that of states suing tobacco            Specifically, the city's IawStiit tar-.    In some instaitces, Mayor Richard Chuck's Gun Shop in suburban 

       year from gunshots.             .       Other jurisdictions. including Phil- companies. Unlike the. suits arguing       gets gtmmakers and their suburban M Daley said at a news conference, Chicago; and a plaintiff in the suit. 

          The suit made Chicago the second adeJphiaand Dade County. Fla." are that cigarette and gun manufa~                   dealers here who marketed and sold dealers sold guns to undercover offi- told the Chicago Sun-Times. "If
       city to take,on the gun industry in considering lawsuits against the gun failed to in$ll design .features to            weapons to undercover police offi- cers ,even after the officers fIl8de .they have a current gun card and I
       court and inserted it into a new industry and studying New Orleans' make their products safe,Chicago's                  cers during a two-month sting opera: remarks about buying' .especially try to refuse them, I would be
       national strategy for battling hand- .and Oticago'sapproacltes to deter- premise is that J!te 'gt1Il industry's       , tion. The officers provided the ven- deadly kinds of ammunition.• "We. Violating their civil r!ghts."
    . Ju~e Dismisses 3 of.12 Counts ­                                                                  ';-' .-.----...-.,                                                                                                               --:--­




       In McDougal Embezzlement Case
                                                                                                                              .Nevada.Recoupt Umfirms Reid Victory
                                                                                                                                               .                                     "               "                '        .                .       -f--'"
                                                                                                                               By HELEN DEWAR                           absentee ballots intheReno area. the 60 votes needed to thwart
       Associated Press                       McDougal embezzled all the mon­                                                  Wa.sh./i Post Staff Writer               afterleaming that they had been . filibusters by Democrats," but
                                               ey, but that had not been proven.                                                                                       'pri~ted with uneven margins .were held in the elections to the
          SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov.             The nine-week trial is about to                                                  Sen. Harry M•. Reid (D-Nev.)          and may have been incorrectly same 55-45 vote margin of eon­
       12-Ajudge dismissed three of the.      enter closfug arguments. During a                                                held onto his razor-thin victorY         tallied by machines.              trot                 , '
       12 counts against Susan McDougal       hearing outside the jury's pres-:                                                over Rep. John Ensign (R-Nev.)        .     But after the recount was com-    ~Nevada citizens can feel eon~
       and said today the prosecution had     ence, ,the judge reduced the                                                     yesterday. after a partial recount       pleted yesterday, Reid had still fident their voices w~re heard
       failed to show" she could have         amount to $50,000 and dismissed .                                                of absentee ballots in last week's       won by 401 votes. The result accurately," Reid said in a state-
       embezzled any more than $50,000.       three counts: two of making a false                                              election for the Senate in Neva-         marked the closest Senate race menL
          McDougal had been accused of        financial statement and one of.us­                                               da.·                            .
                                                                                                                                                                        this year and will deny Republi-   . But former governor Robert
       taking $150,000 from her former        ing a forged or revoked bank card. .                                                Reid had been declared the            cans their last chance of eruarg- List, who was Bnsign's campaign
       employers, conductor Zubin Meh­           By reducing the amount alleged                                                unofficial victor on election            ing their 10-seat majority in the manager, . said he would urge
       ta and his wife, Nancy. Superior       in the main grand theft charge, the                                              night--':'by 459 votes out of
       Court Judge Leslie Light said it                                                                                                                                 chamber.                          Ensign to seek a stateWide re-
                                              judge reduced McDougal's poten- . Susan McDougal was employed by                 416,000 cast-but a judge or­               ,Republicans had hoped to ex- count. "We just wanta good
       was "certainly possible". that         tial sentence by three years.        .ecmductor Zubln Mehta ami his wife.        dered a,recount·of about 6,000           pand their majority, perhaps to honest count," he said.
                                                                                    ...l1li BBLlaULB SOUBaB
                                                                                                  By Ann Gerhart and Annie Groer

 Norm Ornstein's
                                                                                                                                                      • You thoul,<ht Ralph Rennet was     five years after his diseased
 Clowning Moment                                                                                                                                      hot in Hamlct? WeU, weU, weU.
                                                                                                                                                      Naked Nicole KIdman wss so
                                                                                                                                                                                           prostate was removed. Fornice, 64,
                                                                                                                                                                                           said he will begin radiation next
                                                                                                                                                      incendiary in the London run of      month,joklng, "I've got to work it
 NonnaUy we would never contemplate Capitol 

    political wonk     Olll$teln's life. But 

                      IHIrm             sex
 when the,Amciican Enterprise Institute's
                                                                                                                                                      "The Blue Room" that tickeL~ for
                                                                                                                                                      the 11 1 performances in New York
                                                                                                                                                                                           around sOme duck hunting. I won't
                                                                                                                                                                                           do it any other way.H
  Hill expert stands before bls wife, Judy IIanfs, his 
                                                                                              are nearly gcne.
  in-laws and a CSPAN camera to reveal that the 
                                                                                                        Strippingtlnstage was "so
  couple has had relationsjust 117times In 13 
                                                                                                       embarrassiul(at first,· the
  years,and that Nhe "thinks oral sex is 
                                                                                                            Australian adress and wife
  adultery-that probably explains why we haven't 
                                                                                                    of Tom CruiSE says in British
 'had any," you gotta notice.                                                                                                                         Vogue. "Of course, in
      And it's not just hlsownsex tife he'sheen                                                                                                       character I'm not even aware
 ,I hlllklngabout Since DNA tests now prove                                                                                                           ofil"
, ~Jefr~,-and~sslaveSaIlrHeml• .Il,l1d_                                                                                                                  One theater critic called
  a child, Ornstein said, "I like 10 think that the                                                                                                   her performal1ce in the play
  DNA means that Jesse ~ and Jesse Helms                                                                                                              "pure theatrical Viagra."
 are cousins."                                                                                                                                        Such revk'WS ha"" produced
    That shtick won theO-man third place in 
                                                                                                        chaotic celebrity clamoring
 Wednesdaynigbt's "FunniestCelebrity in 
                                                                                                             for house seats at the Court
 Washington" contest, which raised $20,000 fQl' 
                                                                                                    Theatre, where previews
 the Child Welfare League of America at the 
                                                                                                        begin Nov. 27. Prcssagent
 Improvisation ComedyOub downtown. The 
                                                                                                             John Baliow said 80 percent
 Sourcettes were among the eixjudges. 
                                                                                                              ofthe tickets are gone;
    First prize went 10 Newsweek's Matt Cooper, 
                                                                                                    .. And in other news of nearly
 Who said of the switch from Newt 6IngridI to 
                                                                                                      sold-out runs •••That canny
 "fresh new race" Bob l.hIng$ton: "They used10 
                                                                                                     creative force lrIc SdIaeffer
 have a 55-year-old white guy from Georgia. Now 
                                                                                                    has snagged Broadway
 they have a 55-year-old white guy from Louisiana.' 
                                                                                                veteran IIcKotby loudon for
    MonIca l.ewtnst(sex-iawyer. Bill                                                                                                                 hls premier production of
 GlnslMlrg-tanned, rested and raunchy-took                                                                                                           ·Over & Over," the new
 second. After a spate of Viagra jokes he asked:                                                                                                     Kander & Ebb musiral
 "What'sthe difference between a catfish and lien                                                                                                    debuting at Signature
 Stan? One Is 1I bottom-dwelllng, SCWlHlUcking                                                                                                       Theater in Janu.,ry. Loudon,
 seavenger.'1lIeollierisjusta fish."                             ",,', .'                                     """"'u,." .....- ... w.....,... PO<I   woo re:elved a Tony Award
    One noncompetlngperfonner was Rep. Joe Scarflorougte;,,;, she displayed several talents: bending over and exposing.                              for her portrayal of Miss
 (R·Fla,), who played guitar and sang with his Pensarola band:,',:: 'beneath a micro-mini jumper, whlte undies printed with                          Hannigan in "Annie," joins a
 Regular Joe. He admitted giving up dreams of rock stardom ::.--,", Mickeyand Minnie mice, and warbling the "Pundette Blues"                         lineup that includes Belle
 when he turned 35,and wrote "I Guess 111 Bea                      i,:-"~', :swathed in red feathers.                                                NeuwIrth.
 Congressman: The oft-repeated refraln was a thwnping"lt's/,: '- We preferred her prose delinition:"A pundette is a                                  • Mississippi Gov. 10...                     fIiPHOIM'IAlAH.... IoQIII_~SOCIAn!)m~

 as easy as can be, if you give your es.ah to me, if you give yow'.1,' I.'. lightweight lightweight .... someone who goes on 1V and teUs             fGrdke said yeskrday he has     HieoIe IIldman In the I.onckIn venIon of
 eash tu me:                                                 '     .-,:;\ ,you the same tblng over and over and over and over but never              had a recurrence ofcancer       "The Blue Room"; Ahot tk:tet In New YOIt.
    And wblle GOP poUster lIellyanne FlUpatrlcIi: did not place;;'!.: 'wears the same outfit twice:
                                                                    ;~',;'»

                                                                    'l~~~'i,,: i.
       FItzpatr\cII
    shows_leg
       (atMlthen
     some).aIIove,
                                                                                                                             ~~ \tln1it)\ugton flont
      alld Ornstein
       ahowsthe
         S4'MIIJs.
                                                                                                                               • FnIlJAY. NOVEMBER If.   1998

				
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