Tag: bankruptcy

Republican Senate candidate’s law firm set bankruptcy of mass shooting victim’s family into motion

Bryant Corky Messner
Bryant Corky Messner

Bryant Corky Messner Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

After ammunition and body armor retailers were unsuccessfully sued by the parents of Jessica Ghawi, who was killed in a 2012 mass shooting, the companies sought to recoup their legal fees. According to the victim’s mother, her family declared bankruptcy after it was ordered to pay more than $200,000 by a judge. Now, Corky Messner, the Republican whose law firm represented one of the retailers, is running for a U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire on a staunchly pro-gun platform.

Messner told WMUR last month that he opposed any gun control measures, and he would support rolling back some existing gun safety laws already on the books. Messner has touted his endorsement from the National Association of Gun Rights, which has attacked the National Rifle Association (NRA) for being “soft” and has called for “absolutely NO COMPROMISE on gun rights issues.” The group has spent “more on pro-gun lobbying than the NRA in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook mass shooting in 2012,” according to Politico.

Messner’s law firm, Messner Reeves, was previously involved in a case which led to the eventual bankruptcy of the family of one of the victims of a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Col. It was the first-ever case where a plaintiff was forced to pay defendants’ legal fees under a Colorado law shielding ammunition and weapons retailers from most liability. 

James Holmes was sentenced to 12 life sentences and an additional 3,318 years after he was convicted of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others during a screening of “The Dark Knight.” One of the dead was Ghawi, a college student pursuing a career in sports journalism who had narrowly escaped another mass shooting a month earlier.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, Ghawi’s parents, sued the retailers which sold Holmes ammunition and body armor in 2014 in spite of laws shielding them from liability. The lawsuit argued that Lucky Gunner, which sold Holmes more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition; The Sportsman Guide, which sold him a 100-round magazine and 700 rounds; BTP Arms, which provided the tear gas canisters used in the attack; and Bullet Proof Body Armor negligently sold Holmes weapons used in the attack online without assessing his state of mind.

“A crazed, homicidal killer should not be able to amass a military arsenal, without showing his face or answering a single question, with the simple click of a mouse,” the Brady Center, the gun control advocacy group which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the family, said at the time. “If businesses choose to sell military-grade equipment online, they must screen purchasers to prevent arming people like James Holmes.”

The lawsuit did not seek any monetary damages but rather asked a court to order the retailers to change the allegedly “negligent and dangerous business practices” which allowed Holmes to purchase his weapons.

Sandy Phillips later told Time that the case was “dismissed before it

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