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Recent Claims in Sandy Hook Shooting Should Be Barred By Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

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January 2, 2014:  On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza murdered twenty-six people and injured an additional six people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Representatives of the estates of eight of the people he killed, and one person who was injured, filed a lawsuit in the Connecticut Superior Court on December 13, 2014.  Rather than suing Adam Lanza’s estate, however, they filed suit against the manufacturer, wholesale distributor and retail dealer who sold the Bushmaster XM15-E2S Modern Sporting Rifle that he used in the shooting.

According to the complaint, the Modern Sporting Rifle at issue had been legally sold to Nancy Lanza in March of 2010.  More than two years later, Adam Lanza stole it after murdering Nancy Lanza, his own mother.  The complaint does not allege any wrongdoing by the defendants, but rather seeks to hold them liable simply because they legally manufacture and sell Modern Sporting Rifles to civilians, while plaintiffs believe their sale should be restricted to the military and law enforcement agencies. 

The complaint specifically alleges that both the wholesale distributor and retail dealer who sold the Modern Sporting Rifle at issue are “qualified product sellers” within the meaning of 15 U.S.C. § 7903(6).  This citation is significant because it is the definition of “seller” from the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a federal law enacted on October 26, 2005 that should result in the dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaint.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act states that a “qualified civil liability action,” which it defines as a:

civil action . . . brought by any person against a [federally licensed] manufacturer or seller of a [firearm that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce] . . . for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, or penalties or other relief resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party. . . .

“may not be brought in any Federal or State Court.”  Although there are six limited exceptions to the definition of a qualified civil liability action that are not barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, the allegations in the complaint do not satisfy any of them.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act has survived numerous challenges to its constitutionality in the almost decade long period in which it has been in effect, and has served as the basis for the dismissal of several similar lawsuits in which plaintiffs attempted to blame members of the firearms industry for the intentional actions of criminals, such as Adam Lanza. 

Renzulli Law Firm, LLP has represented manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and retail dealers in more cases involving the Protection of Commerce in Arms Act as a defense than any other firm, including the actions brought by the City of New York, the City of Gary Indiana, and the District of Columbia, as well as numerous cases brought by private plaintiffs.  For more information on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, please contact John F. Renzulli.

Renzulli Law Firm, LLP Successful on Appeal in New York Labor Law Case

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January 2, 2015: Renzulli Law Firm, LLP recently obtained a complete dismissal of all claims against a premises owner and large contractor on an appeal to the New York Appellate Division, First Department.  In a lawsuit titled Brown v. New York Hospital Medical Center, a case previously pending in the New York Supreme Court, County of New York, our firm represented the defendant general contractor and the property owner.  Plaintiff claimed that he was injured due to defendants’ violation of New York’s statutory Labor Law and Industrial Code.


Inconsistencies Amongst NY SAFE Act "Database" and Ammo Laws Frustrate Many

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December 16, 2014: Provisions governing ammunition sales within the NY SAFE Act have caused unrest amongst firearm retailers and consumers who want to insure that they are selling/purchasing ammunition legally. 

An open letter in early 2014 from NY State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico noted, in pertinent part, that "the [SAFE Act] requires that as of January 15, 2014, all ammunition transfers take place in person, including internet sales, which must be facilitated by a New York State ammunition seller," and "the law will also require retail sellers to do background checks and record sales once a New York State database is established and operational."


TTAB Rules In Favor of Anthropologie In Trademark Opposition Proceeding

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December 16, 2014:  In a recent determination by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) (Opposition No. 91204412), Happy Green Company’s LLC’s application for “ANTHRO” in international class 3 for bath salts; bath soaps; cleaning and washing preparations; cosmetics and makeup; deodorants and antiperspirants; fragrance etc. was held to be too close to the trademark “ANTHROPOLOGIE” registered by Anthropologie, Inc. and U.O. Merchandise, Inc. ANTHROPOLOGIE is registered in several classes for retail department store services, clothing, handbags, and clothing and fashion accessories. The Board refused registration of the “ANTHRO” trademark on the grounds that a likelihood of confusion exists between the two marks.


Christopher Renzulli and Peter Malfa Featured in For The Defense

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June 16, 2014: Defense Research Institute (DRI) recently featured an article co-authored by Christopher Renzulli and Peter V. Malfa, Construction Contracts: Personal Jurisdiction and Forum Selection Clauses, in its June 2014 Construction Law issue of For The Defense magazine, which can be found here.

The article addresses recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that redefine the importance of personal jurisdiction and forum selection clauses in drafting construction contracts, with particular emphasis on how regional district courts have applied the Supreme Court’s holdings.


Implications of Recent U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on Attorneys’ Fees in Patent Infringement

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May 15, 2014: In a pair of rulings handed down last Monday, the court loosened restrictions on patent lawsuit fee-shifting, in which the losing party must pay the prevailing party’s attorneys’ fees in exceptional cases under the Patent Act (35 U.S.C.A. 285). The U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded Octane Fitness LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness Inc, and vacated and remanded Highmark Inc. v. Allcare Health Management System, LLC, thereby abrogated the two-prong test in which a case is exceptional if both (1) the litigation is objectively baseless, and (2) the litigation is brought in subjective bad faith that was established in Brooks Furniture Mfg., Inc. v. Dutailier Int’l, Inc., 393 F.3d 1378, 1381 (Fed Cir. 2005)).


Christopher Renzulli and Nicholas Whipple Featured in the Defense Association of New York Journal

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March 28, 2014: DEFENDANT, the Journal of the Defense Association of New York (DANY), recently featured an article co-authored by Christopher Renzulli and Nicholas Whipple, Understanding the Recalcitrant Worker Defense, in its Winter 2014 Labor Law issue.

The article addresses the Recalcitrant Worker Defense in the context of Labor Law § 240(1) claims, with particular emphasis on when the defense is best utilized and situations in which alternatives with less burdensome requirements would be more effective.

For more information please contact Christopher Renzulli or Nicholas Whipple.

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