Richard Mayberry‎ > ‎Litigator‎ > ‎

Trial and Appellate Practice

Richard Mayberry was honored to serve as lead trial counsel for the American Shooting Sports Council, Inc.or "ASSC" in the municipal cities lawsuits against the firearms industry. ASSC was a national firearms trade association headquartered in Atlanta.  ASSC was named a defendant in over dozen or so of these cases in various state and federal courts across the country. Richard Mayberry was active in this representation from circa 1999-2003 when it concluded for ASSC. 
Municipal Cities Lawsuits verses Firearms Industry
Complex, Multi-State, Multi-District Product Liability Litigation

Around 1999, the first lawsuit in the nation by a governmental entity against the firearms industry was commenced by Mayor Morial and New Orleans seeking damages for community costs caused by the firearm industry’s alleged negligent business practices. Over 34 other governmental entities filed similar lawsuits.

ASSC put forth a vigorous defense in the cases below at the trial level and in may appeals. However  ASSC was not in all appeals.

Morial and City of New  Orleans v. Smith & Wesson Corp.,785 So. 2d 11 (2001), Application for Rehearing Denied April 27, 2001, Certiorari Denied October 9, 2001 [Reported ar 2001 U.S. LEXIS 9491.]

Miami-Dade County, Florida Penelas v. Arms Technology, Inc., No. 99-01941 CA-06 (Circuit Court for 11th Judicial District in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida), aff’d, No. 3D00-113 (District Court of Appeal of Florida, 3d
District Feb. 14, 2001).

City of St. Louis v. Cernicek, No. 992-01209 (Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, 22nd Judicial District, Division 1), removed to federal court, No. 4:00CV01895 CEJ (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri).

Cleveland, OH White et al. v. Smith and Wesson Corp, et al., No. 1: 99 CV 1134 (U.S. Dist. Ct. N.D. Ohio). Filed April 15, 1999.

The litigation in two cases was exceptional: In re Massacherrs Firearm Cases and In re California Firearm Cases, see City of Boston v. Smith & Wesson Corp., No. 99-2590 (Superior Court Department, Suffolk County, Mass.), petition for interlocutory appeal denied, No. 2000-J-0483 (Mass.Appeals Court). and 
In re California Firearms Cases, 24 Cal. Rptr. 3d 659, 126 Cal. App. 4 (2005). The California cases were consolidated under complex case rules, and moved from San Francisco to San Diego. 

Much of the Firearms Litigation was initiated by Brady Centers, see their Legal Action Project Municipal Lawsuits Summary, page 25 on [dated 2010]. Prominent class action law firms such as Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP in Boston and Milberg Weiss in San Diego-NY typically, but not always, took the lead in he courtroom.

Private ownership of firearms in American culture remains a fiercely fought conflict in the court of public opinion.  As a lawyers, Mayberry is grateful for the opportunity to represent one of the key actors.
Historical  Postscript 

Cases of all sorts, big and small,  are won and lost every day in America's courtrooms. The firearms litigation continues to have an after life on the public discourse on the regulation of firearms. Select postscripts follow and each has spawned multiple books for the reader interested in more detail. 

(1) The litigation raised significant public policy issues covered by national press and numerous law reviews. See e.g. law review by Andrew Cabana, Municipal Litigation against Handgun Manufacturers: Abuse of the Civil Tort System, 9 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 1127 (2000-2001) and compare DG Gifford, Public Nuisance as a Mass Products Liability Tort (2003).

(2) The prominent former executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, Inc.or "ASSC" is Richard Feldman. Feldman  went on to write Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist  an insider's read on the workings of Washington D.C. gun lobby. Mr. Feldman continues as a highly experienced consultant to the firearms industry. Mayberry considers Feldman. a friend.

(3) The associations key lobbyist, Robert [Bob] Ricker, crossed battle lines and in some of the product liability cases testified for the plaintiffs. see  Ricker's change of heart about the industryBob Ricker was one of the most influential association executives during the 1990's. Bob died on 4 December 2009.   Mayberry misses Bob and his charming wife Eileen. Bob's vitality on industry public policy and his legacy remain immense. 

(3) We opposed Milberg Weiss, lead plaintiff firm, in the firearms litigation. Milberg Weiss, for conduct unrelated to the firearms industry, was subsequently indicted for allegedly paying three plaintiffs $11.4 million in illegal kickbacks in about 180 cases spanning 25 years. In 2006 name partner Mel Weiss pled guilty and served 30 months in federal prison. see The fall of America's meanest law firm, Milberg Weiss, the lawsuit factory that took corporations for $45 billion, is in the feds' cross hair chronicled by Fortune Magazine's Peter Elkind.  Mayberry faced off in the product liability litigation against Milberg Weiss' California offices in San Francisco and San Diego courtrooms.

(4) Journalist Paul M. Barrett,  Businessweek author of  Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun chroniclies  how an Austrian gun constructed largely of hardened plastic became the firearm of choice for the majority of the nation’s law enforcement agencies.  An excerpt from Barrett's fascinating book:  “Across the United States, the preferences of local cops and county deputies have broad commercial consequences. The American civilian gun-buying population tends to gravitate toward what the professionals carry. For Glock, that translated into a bonanza.  The Glock 17 gained profit-making momentum in the fashion of a classic American consumer fad – one that, rather than fade away, kept expanding year after year. Venerable rivals, chiefly Smith & Wesson, ignored Glock at first and then scoffed at him. Eventually, they began imitating the Austrian invader, flooding the market with knockoffs. The Americans, to this day, haven’t caught up.”  Glock was a member of ASSC.

A well regarded firearms professional, former Glock CEO and general counsel Paul F. Jannuzzo convicted of racketeering  in 2012 in a Geargia state court. Interestingly the trial court appears to have permitted Glock's lawyers an active role in Januzzo's criminal investigation and prosecution. The Dailey (Cobb Co. Law) Report. Januzzo conviction was overturned by the court of appeals in July 2013.

During the 1990s when Mayberry was general counsel to what many considered the key firearms trade association voice on public policy and lobbying, Jannuzzo was the face of America’s gun industry.  Paul can resume his life now. Mayberry found Jannuzzo a personable man- one highly capable and dedicated in his work on behalf of the firearms industry.