Missouri Gun Dealer Settles Brady Lawsuit for $2.2 Million

odessa-gun-and-pawn-dealer-settle-lawsuit-2-2-million

Gun control groups are looking at lawsuits like these to seek damages from the gun industry. (Photo: Odessa Gun & Pawn/Facebook)

A Missouri gun dealer, Odessa Gun & Pawn, has settled a lawsuit alleging that it neglectfully sold a pistol to a woman who used it to murder her father. The dealer settled the Brady Center-backed lawsuit for $2.2 million.

Attorneys from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence believe that this will lead to additional lawsuits against gun shops in other states.

“I think this case sends a resounding message to gun dealers across the country that if they put profits over people, we will make them pay with consequences,” attorney Jonathan Lowy told the Kansas City Star. “We’re taking the profit out of supplying dangerous people with guns.”

The team filed the lawsuit against the pawn shop after it sold a handgun and ammunition to Colby Weathers. Weathers’ mother, Janet Delana, contacted Odessa Gun & Pawn previously with detailed information about her daughter and her state of mental health.

Weathers suffered from schizophrenia and suicidal intentions. Delana says she warned store employees on June 25, 2012, not to sell Weathers another handgun after she attempted to commit suicide with a pistol she bought from the Odessa Gun & Pawn. Delana included Weathers full name, social security number and date of birth in her plea.

Two days later Weathers bought another handgun and ammo from the dealer — presumably passing a background check. Less than an hour later she shot and killed her father, Tex Delana. After the shooting, Weathers plead not guilty to murder by reason of a mental defect or disease and was institutionalized.

The initial lawsuit against Odessa Gun & Pawn was dismissed. The Brady Center attorneys persisted and took the case before the Missouri state supreme court. That court unanimously found that the lawsuit could go forward under the state’s negligent entrustment law.

While many parts of the firearms industry are protected from general negligence lawsuits under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), Missouri’s negligent entrustment law states that a party can be held responsible for the actions of a second party if they have solid grounds to believe they are about to break the law and cause harm.

According to the lawsuit, the the Odessa Gun & Pawn violated federal gun laws and regulations in ATF reports. While the shop wasn’t shut down over the violations, they argued that it had a history of negligence.

With the state supreme court allowing the case to proceed Odessa Gun & Pawn moved to settle the case rather than take it to a jury trial. The pawn shop agreed to pay out $2.2 million to Weathers’ family.

“I am proud,” said Delana at a local press conference, writes KCUR. “I don’t want to take anybody’s gun away, I don’t. But there are some people who don’t need guns. And my daughter was one.”

See Also: GunsAmerica Firearm Dealers Talk Record-Breaking Black Friday Sales

Gun control advocates see this as the new path to limiting gun ownership. As it becomes less and less likely to pass new federal gun control laws, gun control groups are moving to take the fight to civil courts across the country.

“Rather than fighting the political headwinds, the coalition is focusing on courts and state regulatory agencies, among the few places where they might still gain some traction,” explains the New York Times. “The coalition is drafting lawsuits and preparing regulatory complaints that could be announced as soon as next month, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.”

This gun control coalition is lead by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and also includes the Brady Center and the Brennan Center for Justice. The coalition has tapped top law firms to turn local and federal laws and regulations against those in the gun industry.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • wake-up-america December 14, 2016, 6:56 am

    It boils down to this, the insurance company said no way, settle and be done with it and that is basically what played out. They did not want the negative publicity of a trial and the crazy unknown results that could come from a jury. So, the insurance company said, thats it, settle and move on and we will jack the rates up like crazy for liability coverage for that business if not outright drop them totally!

  • Beachhawk December 12, 2016, 10:22 pm

    The store should have recruited assistance from the NRA and firearms manufacturer’s association and then fought this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. This precedent is going to damage gun dealers everywhere and make defending these cases more difficult.

  • Kurt Heinlein December 10, 2016, 1:46 pm

    Well then judging from this, every bar, nightclub or store that sells alcohol to anyone who might have a mental issue should be held personally responsible for anything that person might do as a result of them taking a drink. Huh, makes perfect sense to me. One more thing, if you know your daughter has some serious mental issues, shouldn’t the mother bear more responsibility for this incident than the gun dealer? Just asking.

  • mach37 December 10, 2016, 3:14 am

    I believe gun dealers have a legal responsibility to not sell to known dingbats. But, even small gun shops have more than one employee; the warning may have been missed if the word did not get around to all employees. The mother should have been told to call the sheriff’s office, who would have a responsibility to pass on the info to NICS. I don’t see the gun shop having the legal right to call in third party complaints to NICS.

  • SGT-N December 10, 2016, 12:29 am

    Most settlements are really between the insurance companies and the plaintiffs because the settlement ends the case without paying further legal fees and negates legal precedent via a no admission of negligence clause inserted in the paperwork. Also, another state court would not allow the use of the settlement agreement because the rules of evidence generally forbid the admission of such agreements as evidence of negligence since parties settle a case for various reasons. Interestingly, each state has different laws, so what worked here may not elsewhere. The large law firms just want to milk the antigun groups for costs, expenses, and fees while they make a nationwide plan, which probably won’t work in the long run.

    • RH February 17, 2017, 9:14 am

      Best post of the day, I could not have said it better. Stuff like this is not a “one size fits everywhere” case.

      It is useless for any future proceeding.

  • Bob December 9, 2016, 4:03 pm

    If a law suit comes because someone sold a handgun or rifle to someone who did harm, then why can’t one bring a law suit to the car manufacture or the dealership who has sold are car that has led to someone’s death. This gun dealer did not want to spend money of the attorney fees or something else he did.

    • Rouge1 December 10, 2016, 12:38 pm

      Or budwiser?

  • JOHN T. FOX December 9, 2016, 2:50 pm

    THIS IS ANOTHER CASE OF IT BEING CHEAPER TO SETTLE THAN PURSUING THE TRUTH! PEOPLE DON’T READ MINDS THEY FOLLOW THE LAW. THE MOTHER SHOULD BE SUED FOR NOT PUTTING HER DAUGHTER IN A NUT HOUSE!

    • wake-up-america December 14, 2016, 6:46 am

      Don’t type in ALL CAPS – it’s RUDE.

    • Ben Slam December 21, 2016, 12:01 am

      It’s called petitioning to have a person committed. If you think someone is suicidal, you file court paperwork. You don’t call every pawn shop, every clerk, every gun store. The world is big place. Get a mental order and it would go on NCIC. KNown dingbat requires some sort of proof. Perhaps mom is the dingbat next time and solid daughter is denied based on an allegation? And 2.2 mill is more than a cheaper to settle number.

  • Penrod December 9, 2016, 2:09 pm

    While there isn’t enough information in this article to be sure, it seems that the gun store was clearly warned in some detail that a potential customer was seriously dangerous because of mental instability, and apparently when the person walked in to buy a gun did absolutely nothing as a result of that information.

    Could they have put a hold on the sale and called the local police for verification of the suicide attempt? Could they have called the mother back and gotten the customer’s doctor’s contact information? Could they have contacted the doctor, who could say extremely little because of privacy laws, but might have responded to a question such as “Should we pursue this issue further? Would you say this person should have a gun?” You bet they could have, but they apparently didn’t do any of those.

    Come on guys: Take SOME personal responsibility here. This shop had notification and they apparently did NOTHING with it.

    Change the circumstances a bit and see where you stand on taking zero responsibility: The father calls the shop and says the family is Muslim, his son is Muslim, his son has become radicalized, and has talked about shooting up a local shopping mall. Name, DOB, SS number: Here’s the info. Gun store essentially says : We don’t care. We don’t give a s***. He isn’t in the data base, so to h*** with the father and his information. They don’t call the father back, they don’t call the local cops. They don’t call the son’s moderate imam to find out what he thinks of the son. They just virtuously say “He wasn’t in the federal database.” Sell the gun. Mall gets shot up, killing a dozen people.

    People, you are deifying the government. You are essentially saying that if the government does not say it is not OK to sell the gun, then it is just fine to go ahead with the sale. NO personal responsibility for turning over a deadly weapon to a person who you have reason to SUSPECT is a menace to innocent people. Not proof, but reason to suspect, and that carries with it some responsibility to look further than a federal database which we know for a fact is incomplete, especially for mental health information. A free society does not work without people taking responsibility for their own actions.

    If the facts are as this story suggests, I would be sympathetic to a major financial ding for the shop.

    • Rob Huckfeldt December 9, 2016, 3:58 pm

      Hippa regulations would prevent the gun shop from just calling the person’s doctor. How does the gun shop know that the person coming in and warning that this other person has all these mental issues isn’t the crazy one? Maybe the one saying these things wants to make sure the accused crazy person can’t buy a firearm to defend themselves from the one in the gun shop doing all the talking? There are a lot of details we will never know. If they would have denied this lady the purchase of a firearm comma and then she got killed, would they get sued for wrongfully denying the firearm for protection?

      • Penrod December 9, 2016, 4:28 pm

        All reasonable questions. From the info in the article, though, the store had a warning and did not even try to verify or disprove it. They might have been unable to find anything one way or the other, but it was likely the lack of ANY effort which damned them.

    • David December 9, 2016, 11:19 pm

      All valid points but I question the mother or anyone else for that matter calling any store and telling them not to sale to someone just because.

  • Nemo December 9, 2016, 1:19 pm

    The team filed the lawsuit against the pawn shop after it sold a handgun and ammunition to Colby Weathers. Weathers’ mother, Janet Delana, contacted Odessa Gun & Pawn previously with detailed information about her daughter and her state of mental health.

    Weathers suffered from schizophrenia and suicidal intentions. Delana says she warned store employees on June 25, 2012, not to sell Weathers another handgun after she attempted to commit suicide with a pistol she bought from the Odessa Gun & Pawn. Delana included Weathers full name, social security number and date of birth in her plea.

    No mention of whether this information was also passed on to the State mental health board. No mention of whether there was any official police record of the mentally unstable person attempting suicide. No mention of this information being in any database that might be relevant. Presumably that was the case, as the (equally presumed) background check (that apparently was passed) is dependent upon such data.

    So, the dealer is supposed to either be a telepath and read the customer’s mind to determine state of mental health, or take the word of a citizen as to whether another citizen is mentally stable without any official documentation to verify that assertion? I think the pawn shop was not served well by its lawyer(s).

  • Illini December 9, 2016, 11:57 am

    Are FFL holders now to be given the implied power to abridge the constitutional rights of fellow citizens? In this instance the “daughter’s” rights protected by the 2nd, 5th and 14th amendment would have been set aside by the “mother” in collusion with the “gun dealer” had the sale been refused!! This is a terrible tragedy to say the least. As would the suicide of the daughter had that come to pass. DUE PROCESS is the key….we as American citizens must demand this fundamental bulwark to liberty!! As it stands….this outcome will encourage more of this type of litigation. Negligent Entrustment?? How is legislation like this even passed??? The dealer made a LAWFUL sale. As it stands…it would have been UNLAWFUL to deny this woman the right to acquire the subject property. Had she been properly adjudicated of a mental deficit…she would have been lawfully denied the purchase and perhaps charged with falsifying information on the 4473!! As for the NRA…I feel assured the organization would have stepped up assistance if the case would have gone to trial. This would have been an important case to evaluate the PLCAA as well as legislation like this Negligent Entrustment (I don’t wear the robe of a judge…but this is not a lawful application of “Negligent Trust”. No way not ever!!)

  • Henriette Beigh December 9, 2016, 11:52 am

    This lawsuit is nothing more than harassment by an anti-weapon group. “Nothing more” does not trivialize the impact of this ridiculous legal action. It serves the purpose of establishing a dangerous and insane legal precedent. This precedent absolves the perpetrator of the crime of any responsibility for the crime they committed. Instead, the responsibility gets directed at some unsuspecting person or entity that is in no way related to the squeezing the trigger. In America we have become masters at not holding persons responsible for their actions. Personally, this waste of resources, this misdirection of guilt, this inability to take responsibility for our actions drives me bat-shit crazy. Further, IMHO the Brady Center should be subject to a counter-suit for irresponsible prosecution of an innocent party. An aside regarding a previous post, “A Few Good Men” is a very poor example since all officers of the court were active military and, as such, did not have any financial stake in the outcome of the outcome. Anyway, this is just my opinion and worth what you paid for it.

  • papacapp December 9, 2016, 11:00 am

    The most dangerous precedent it sets is the effect it will have on FTF private transactions, not just firearms but all potentially dangerous consumer products, chainsaws, lawnmowers, etc. If no legislation is passed to protect the seller by limiting his liability, every injury case will subject the seller to intense pressure to settle. Virtually every transaction that results in injury will be scrutinized. If a grown man simply has a pre-teen child with him while purchasing a lawnmower at a yard sale, the seller will be expected to assume the child will be using it and have to refuse the sale. It will get very absurd very quickly.

  • elnonio December 9, 2016, 10:23 am

    Where was the NRA? Nowhere, because they spotted this loser case from a mile away.

    Did the dealer follow the procedure to sell a firearm? Yes. Does that procedure shield a seller from liability if the dealer knows the buyer to be incompetent (mentally) even though the background check comes back clean? No.

    It’s not different from a dealer selling to a known criminal, felon, etc.

    Here the dealer had reason to suspect that the buyer should not have a firearm under current laws, was a risk to self and others, and could easily have turned down the sale (or called the mother, or called the police to verify, or taken a myriad other actions other than make the sale). That the daughter could have gone elsewhere is a non-issue: even if true, the result (fahter’s death) may have been the same, but the legal outcome completely different for the facts for the other dealer would have been different (unless the mother called them too).

    I bet you in retrospect the dealer wishes they have passed on the sale, and that ultimately is the result needed: if you are a dealer, use your brain and don’t sell if you have reason to suspect the buyer shouldn’t be in possession of a firearm. That risk just isn’t worth it.

    Having said that, it does stink to high heaven that the mother failed to take, or wasn’t able to take, the real steps of ensuring her daughter couldn’t pass a background check anywhere.

    • Philippic December 10, 2016, 1:17 pm

      Making this FFL the de facto responsible party is a disgusting travesty of justice. Imagine you are an employee in a busy establishment, and you receive a phone call from a (probably hysterical) woman babbling about someone who should not be allowed in your establishment. The company you work for has no system in place to log such unofficial, unverifiable information in a spreadsheet or database (if the company already has a system in place to keep track of authorized buyers, why would they?), so you just jot it down on a sticky note. Now you are held responsible for something gone wrong?

      The mother was responsible here because she was in denial. Her daughter had already been proven to be threat to herself and others, yet there was no evidence that the mother did anything to address the matter at hand. Denial. The fact that the daughter attempted suicide then killed her father begs the question: what was her father doing to her that was so terrible it caused her to want to kill him and herself? Yes, it is horrible to even suggest this, but this is in fact depressingly common. Again, denial. I don’t want to blame the mother entirely because calling our country’s mental health care system a “system” is being overly generous. There was very likely nowhere else this woman could turn to for help.

  • mb December 9, 2016, 9:46 am

    This was just BS, the store was under no legal or moral obligation to withhold sale, and it would be hard to prove in court malicious intent by the store. Any nut could call a store and prevent you from a gun purchase just on their say so? Okay, how about canceling your credit card just because some nut calls Visa and says you don’t intend to pay the bill? This is BS.

  • WildChild December 9, 2016, 9:44 am

    I purchased a car from a reputable dealer. I was very proud of that car and took it out with my buds to a party. We had a great time and got drunk. On the way home the car jumped a curb and hit a fire hydrant. Do you think this lawfirm could help me prove that the dealer was negligent in selling it to me. The dealer should have known I was going to go out do something stupid with it. If the gun dealer had a crystal ball and knew that selling a gun was going to lead to death of the father of the purchaser, Shouldn’t the car dealer be held to the same standard? Seems to me that we need more regulation to protect all the stupid people and stupid decisions they make. We could call this regulation “Get out of free Card because I am an idiot Law”. Or maybe there should be an IQ test before you can purchase ANYTHING! Wake up people! Problem lies in the defect or decisions made by people. This lady could have killed her father with a kitchen skillet. Would you than sue the manufacture of that Skillet? Should we sue Bed Bath and beyond for selling her that skillet? It is always some else’s fault. It is time to blame the actor of the miss deed. The devil really didn’t make her do that!

    • Jim December 9, 2016, 10:27 am

      Not unlike the lady who “accidentally” dumped a cup of hot coffee in her lap. What a ditz! She certainly shouldn’t have gotten a dime…..for being stupid.

  • Fred Ziffle December 9, 2016, 9:43 am

    This is great! I’m going to call my local gun shop and tell them that my ex-wife is a lunatic, and so are her brothers and uncles. Then I’ll goad the entire ex-family into shooting up my home. Then I can sue the gun shop to pay for a complete home remodeling. Another miscarriage of justice perpetrated by the relentless, locust-like plague of left-leaning, gun-grabbing, anti-American twits.

  • pirateye December 9, 2016, 8:32 am

    This is bs. They’re now allowing a person to contact a gun shop and place them on a do not sell list? The mother did provide a ssn but did she prove she was the mother? They were supposed to react on just her word? Mom should have contacted the proper authorities since she felt daughter was a threat. Did she stop to think that her daughter could have gone down the road to the next gun store? The gun shop followed the law and submitted a 4473 which came back approved. One must question on where mom did enough to stop this and might also he held accountable. While many details are not explained here it stinks as presented.

    • James Harper December 9, 2016, 9:29 am

      Pawn shop should have never settled, The lady in question passed a background check. What else is the store supposed to do?

  • Uncle Dave December 9, 2016, 8:27 am

    Looks like the gun dealer was negligent. Similar to giving your car keys to a drunk. Negligent entrust meant is about your knowledge of the person’s demeanor or propensity. It’s not limited to guns. I agree this is an exceptional case.

  • Dave Hicks December 8, 2016, 11:07 am

    That is a tragic story. What about the FBI background check ? Seems like a lot of unanswered questions. The quote “taking the profit out of firearm sales” is a distortion of fact, how much profit is in one or two sales ? 2.2 million ? The person at fault is the killer. The blame falls on the person who did the crime.This could open the way to lawsuits for any seller of anything if someone is killed or injured with any product.

  • LHTwist December 8, 2016, 10:56 am

    “The coalition is drafting lawsuits and preparing regulatory complaints that could be announced as soon as next month”
    Big damned deal. Very few cases are as strange as this one. I doubt that “The coalition” is going to win any cases without similar circumstances being present and I hope every defendant countersues for defamation and damages. That too is much simpler to prove in civil court. You can’t drag people through court without good reason and gun control is no reason.

    • Lying Bastard December 9, 2016, 6:35 am

      It does not work this way. Do you remember the lawyers in “A Few Good Man?” If they settle they still make their money. Second, the gun store might have thought it would be bad publicity — they might be perceived as putting a family on the streets — and decided to capitulate. Expect the next lawsuit to at least double in value; Brady Center will jack it up until it either causes insurance agencies to reconsider or raise their charges so it will drive gun prices out of the hands of the serfs or bankrupt the gun stores. Either case the outcome is the same.

      A question I have is where was NRA when this happens? I thought they had a legal team just for these occasions

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