Lawyers for 10-year-old victim focus on marketing weapon used in Uvalde school shooting

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UVALDE, Texas (The Texas Tribune) – Lawyers for the family of a 10-year-old Uvalde shooter victim have demanded marketing materials from the Georgia manufacturer behind the AR-15-style assault rifle used to kill 21 people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The legal team, which represents the relatives of Amerie Jo Garza, did not file a complaint. But one of its members won a $73 million settlement for nine families of victims in the Sandy Hook shooting after pioneering a legal theory that the marketing of the gun used in that shooting violated fair trade laws in Connecticut.

In a joint letter, the lawyers asked officials at Daniel Defence, the arms manufacturer, to preserve evidence including marketing plans, social media campaigns and advertising. The letter was sent by Mikal Watts of San Antonio, Charla Aldous of Dallas and Josh Koskoff of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They represent Alfred Garza III and Kimberly Garcia, the parents of Amerie Jo.

“My purpose of being now is to honor the memory of Amerie Jo,” Alfred Garza said in a statement released by the law firms. “She wants me to do everything I can to make sure this never happens to another child again. I have to fight her.

In their letter to Daniel Defense, the attorneys request that records, including the company’s online shopping database and their communications with the 18-year-old Uvalde shooter, be preserved. The shooter purchased a DDM4 rifle, which is classified as an AR-15 type weapon.

“If they are truly sincere in their desire to support these families, they will provide the information Mr. Garza has requested without delay or apology,” Koskoff said in a statement.

Daniel Defense officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A statement on their website reads: “We are deeply saddened by the recent tragic events in Texas. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and community devastated by this evil act. »

Earlier this year, Koskoff successfully negotiated the settlement on behalf of the families of nine victims who were killed in 2012 when a 20-year-old opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 26 people, including 20 freshmen. . This is America’s deadliest school shooting. The May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School is now the second deadliest school shooting in the United States.

The federal Protection of the Legal Arms Trade Act protects gun manufacturers from liability in the event of a mass shooting. However, there are exemptions, which is how Koskoff and his team managed to get a settlement without the case going to trial in the Sandy Hook case.

One of those exemptions to the 2005 law occurs if a state law is violated, according to Dru Stevenson, a Wayne Fischer research professor at the South Texas College of Law who specializes in gun policy and regulation. In the Sandy Hook case, Koskoff argued that the marketing of the gun violated fair trade laws in Connecticut.

It is unclear whether the same exception could be used in a potential lawsuit by the Uvalde families.

“It will be a new issue for the Texas Supreme Court,” Stevenson said, “to see if this type of marketing violates the unfair trade practices law here.”

In a separate case Thursday, San Antonio attorney Don Flanary filed a pretrial request in Uvalde County for a deposition from Daniel’s defense officials on behalf of his client, Emilia Marin, who worked at Robb Elementary as a speech pathology clerk.

Copyright 2022 The Texas Tribune. All rights reserved.

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