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Two Parkland families go after gun industry with lawsuit

by Mike Magnoli

PARKLAND, Fla. (CBS12) — Two families who lost children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School want to sue gun manufacturers and the gun shop where Nikolas Cruz got his AR-15.

But there is a Florida law that protects the gun industry from such lawsuits. The Parkland families announced their intent to unravel that legal buffer Thursday morning.

Parkland father Fred Guttenburg has a powerful Miami law firm helping him take on the gun industry.

“The manufacturers, marketers and retailers of these guns say ‘it’s not our fault.’ “ Fred Guttenburg says. His 14 year old daughter Jaime was one of the 17 killed at Stoneman Douglas.

Guttenburg has since become an advocate for tougher gun control and he and his legal team say they have a plan for punching holes in the layers of protection for companies like Smith & Wesson, a maker of semi-automatic riffles.

Under current Florida law, neither companies nor individuals can sue gun manufacturers or distributors unless there is a defect in the product.

Smith & Wesson has a kind of built-in immunity. If there are attempts to sue, the plaintiffs can incur crushing financial setbacks.

Gun companies can say bad publicity from lawsuits cost them sales and slowed down production. Then, if the gun companies win in court, the plaintiffs pay all legal fees.

Guttenburg and his team have filed a suit to challenge that statue. They argue the right to sue is a constitutional right.

“Enough is enough. We need to change things,” Guttenburg says.

Guttenburg’s legal team says this is just step one, but they didn’t want to elaborate on what the next steps are.

The family of Alex Schacter, another Parkland victim. is also involved in this suit.