Case Information: Adames v. Sheahan, Nos. 105789 and 105851 (consolidated) (Ill., filed June 27, 2008)
At Issue: Challenge to the constitutionality of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. A child was unintentionally shot and killed by a friend who was playing with the service weapon of his father, a deputy sheriff. Plaintiffs, administrators of the estate of the deceased child, sued defendant firearm manufacturer on a strict products liability theory to recover for the child’s death. Plaintiffs appealed a judgment of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, which granted defendants’ motions for summary judgment. Reversing a grant of summary judgment to the manufacturer, the court found, inter alia, that the manufacturer was not entitled to summary judgment on a failure to warn claim as there was no warning that a gun could fire a chambered bullet when the magazine was removed. Defendants raised the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901 – 7903 , which immunizes firearms manufacturers from most lawsuits, as a defense, but the court found that the PLCAA did not require dismissal of failure to warn claim against the gun manufacturer.
Law Center’s Brief: Our brief, joined by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Violence Policy Center, argues that the PLCAA does not bar plaintiffs’ action, and that the PLCAA is unconstitutional. It claims that the PLCAA violates the Tenth Amendment by doing to state courts something that Congress could not do to federal courts.