Brooklyn subway mass shooting victim sues gun manufacturer Glock
Just yesterday, CNN reported that Ilene Steur, 49, who was injured in the shooting attack on the New York City subway in April, is suing gun manufacturer Glock over its marketing practices and distribution strategy that she says allowed the suspect to acquire one of the company's products.
Steur's suit names Georgia-based Glock, Inc. and its Austrian parent company as defendants.
Steur, a Brooklyn resident, was riding the subway on her way to her office when mass shooter Frank James set off two smoke grenades inside the train car and then opened fire.
Ten people were shot in the attack, including Steur. The bullet fractured part of Steur's spine just above her tailbone and ripped through her rectum. Her lawsuit says she suffered "serious and permanent personal injuries" that left her unable to perform normal activities.
Steur's lawsuit follows the landmark $73-million settlement in February paid by gun-maker Remington to families of the victims of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The families argued that the company recklessly marketed the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to young adults.
We must be sympathetic to any victim of violence such as what occurred in Brooklyn. Injuries such as those endured by Steur are life-altering. Healing can takes years. Injuries can be permanent. The pain to the individual and those around him is significant. The psychological scars will always remain in addition to the physical injuries.
Steur said in a statement:
I always see on the news about people — innocent people — getting shot, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families. I never thought I would be one of those victims.
There has got to be better control of who gets their hands on these guns.
The shooter, Frank James, used a Glock 9mm handgun to fire at least 33 rounds on the crowded train, officials said. James has pleaded not guilty to terrorism and gun charges.
James had a significant social media presence, appearing in myriad YouTube videos ranting against Caucasian people. He also expressed disgust that Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's husband is a white man. On Facebook, James posted a meme with the caption "Oh, Black Jesus, please kill all whiteys."
So where does it stop if we go down this road of suing manufacturers?
Last year, a car plowed through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin, killing five and injuring at least 40 people, according to the City of Waukesha.
Earlier this year, a car plowed into a crowd of early-morning carnival-goers in Belgium, killing six people and injuring dozens of others.
Should the car manufacturers be sued for such attacks?
The U.K. has strict gun laws, which probably explains the rise in the number of knife-related crimes. By the end of September 2021, U.K. police had recorded over 46,239 knife-related offenses.
Should victims be able to sue knife manufacturers?
What about cases of drunk driving?
Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, crashed his car near San Mateo, California in the early hours of Feb. 22, 1957, the Daily Mail reported. The crash killed Paul's older brother.
Let's say you accidentally receive superficial scalds because you unknowingly opened the hot water tap in your hotel bathroom because you had a bit too much to drink. Should the makers of Jack Daniels and the hotel's management be sued in addition to the car manufacturers? How about also taking Kohler to court because it manufactured the taps?
What if someone is at an art exhibition and an assailant strikes a victim with a replica of Excalibur?
Should the manufacturer of the replica be sued, or should it be the iron smelter?
If we go down this road, where do we stop?
There is an implicit contract between the buyer and the manufacturer that the appliance will function as specified in the manual and nothing unexpected will occur.
A manufacturer can be held responsible only if an appliance malfunctions.
Quite often, manufacturers recall defective items from the market.
Toyota recently recalled about 460,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix a software problem that can inadvertently disable the electronic stability control system. If a driver sustains injuries owing to this defect, the manufacturer can be sued.
Perhaps an appliance does not have adequate warnings about the risks during usage, which may cause injuries. If so, there is ample reason to initiate legal proceedings.
But what the manufacturer cannot be held responsible for is the misuse of their products.
If one has the intentions, any item from kitchen appliances to stationery to even a church bell can be used to cause harm.
Back to the situation in Brooklyn that caused Ilene Steur life-altering injuries.
The only groups Steur should sue are the shooter, Frank James, and perhaps the NYC subway authorities for allowing a heavily armed man with smoke bombs to enter the subway train. She could also sue the New York City mayor and the state's governor for presiding over a crime wave that caused her grievous injuries.
In the end, a Glock is a product like any other. If it is legally available in NYC, the manufacturer is at liberty to market its legally available product the way it deems suitable. No manufacturer can be held responsible if a buyer misuses it.
But the goal of this lawsuit seems political.
It is interesting to note that Steur didn't sue Glock immediately after the Brooklyn subway shooting. It was only after the two other recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and another at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that she choose to take legal action.
New York is the only state with legislation, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March 2021, that allows citizens to bring civil lawsuits against gun manufacturers to hold them responsible for individual misuse of their products. In all other states, federal law protects manufacturers from being held liable for public harm caused by users of their products.
If Glock is indeed found guilty, this could set a dicey precedent.
Each and every manufacturer will be at risk of being sued following misuse.
It won't work the way they think it will work.
Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.