The Indiana Supreme Court is being asked to overturn a May 23 Court of Appeals ruling that revived a long-running lawsuit seeking to hold numerous gun manufacturers responsible for the costs of 1990s gun violence in the city of Gary.
In a request for transfer to Indiana's high court, the gun manufacturers argue that state and federal law provide them legal immunity against Gary's lawsuit, and the Court of Appeals erred when it reversed Lake Superior Judge John Sedia's decision last year to dismiss the city's case.
"This case presents significant questions of law in a case of public importance," the manufacturers said. "The city of Gary seeks to regulate by mandatory injunction the manner in which defendants market and sell the firearms they manufacture."
The city's lawsuit has persisted in Indiana's court system since 1999 as various state and federal laws seemingly designed to shelter the gun manufacturers from civil liability were found by Hoosier judges to be inapplicable to Gary's claims.
In 2015, the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly sought to do away with the city's case once and for all by enacting a statute, retroactive to 1999, barring lawsuits against gun manufacturers relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of a firearm, or the unlawful misuse of a firearm by a third party.
However, in its 3-0 decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that the immunity law did not apply to the gun manufacturers' supposedly illegal marketing and sales practices alleged in Gary's lawsuit, including condoning straw purchases, failing to restrict sales to corrupt dealers and making false claims about gun safety.
The manufacturers rejected that contention in their request for Supreme Court review.
They said the immunity laws require Gary to allege specific statutory violations, but Gary's case is based only on the claim that the gun manufacturers "do not know, but should know about unlawful acts by others."
The city still gets to respond to the transfer request before the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the gun manufacturers' appeal.