Small Part Of Gun Store Lawsuit Survives In Supreme Court Ruling

Apr 24, 2017

The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed Monday that gun violence victims can’t get monetary damages from gun stores that illegally sell firearms. But the court didn’t entirely dismiss a former Indianapolis police officer’s lawsuit either. Former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer Dwayne Runnels sued a gun store that he says illegally sold the firearm that wounded him. But Indiana law says gun sellers can’t be sued for monetary damages, even if the sale was unlawful. The Indiana Supreme Court largely upheld lower court opinions and dismissed the bulk of Runnels’ lawsuit. Writing for the court, Justice Geoffrey Slaughter says the state statute is “clear” and “unambiguous.” He writes that the legislature did not limit gun seller immunity from monetary claims to only lawful sales. But a part of Runnels’ case survives. His suit seeks in part what’s called “equitable relief,” that is, a solution that doesn’t involve money. Runnels claims the gun store is a public nuisance and seeks a judicial remedy to prevent it from continuing to sell firearms until it, for instance, retrains employees to minimize risk of illegal sales. Slaughter’s opinion says the legislature doesn’t provide gun sellers immunity from those sorts of claims. And the Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court to hear arguments on that relief request.