Backfire in Bloomberg lawsuit

by David Nieporent on October 5, 2007

NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s lawsuits against out-of-state gun dealers continue in New York City, thanks to Judge Weinstein (see Aug. 27, and links therein), but it’s not all rosy for the mayor. As we previously reported, some of the gun dealers targeted by Bloomberg’s sting are fighting back, and one of them won a victory last month:

Questioning the legality of tactics used by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sue gun dealers, a federal judge in Atlanta has allowed a defamation suit by a Smyrna, Ga., gun shop against Bloomberg and other New York City officials to go forward.

Although the judge dismissed the Smyrna gun seller’s negligence claims against New York officials, he declared that six of 13 potentially defamatory statements were actionable and cleared the way for a tortious interference with business claim.

[...]

Bloomberg, accompanied by other New York public officials, announced the results of the sting — and the accompanying suit — in May 2006 at a news conference. According to court records in the case, Bloomberg called the gun dealers “a group of bad apples who routinely ignore federal regulations,” and Feinblatt said that the targeted gun dealers had “New Yorkers’ blood on their hands.” Forrester ruled that both of those statements are vulnerable to liability claims.

More importantly, the judge denied Bloomberg’s request to transfer the case to New York, where it would have been heard by Judge Weinstein. (Bloomberg is attempting to get the decision reversed, but for now, the suit against him is active.)

In other gun-related litigation, it seems that Gary, Indiana’s lawsuit against gun manufacturers may continue, despite the fact that Congress passed a law explicitly banning such lawsuits; as in New York City’s war on gun manufacturers, activist judges seem to want to interpret away Congress’s words. (Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Manhattan in an appeal of Judge Weinstein’s ruling allowing the city’s lawsuit to proceed. (Earlier: Nov. 2005)

{ 2 comments }

1 JonC 10.06.07 at 4:50 pm

I was struck by this question from one of the Indiana Court of Appeals judges, quoted in the third paragraph of the story on the Gary lawsuit: “How can they [Congress] be changing the law when it hasn’t been decided yet by the courts?”

Perhaps the quote made more sense in context. But if the judge meant what it sounds like she meant, one can only hope that the attorney for the gun manufacturers was able to educate her that it has been well-settled U.S. law for over 200 years that Congress has broad discretion to change the rule of decision affecting cases on appeal. “[I]f subsequent to the judgment and before the decision of the appellate court, a law intervenes and positively changes the rule which governs, the law must be obeyed . . . .” U.S. v. Schooner Peggy, 5 U.S. 103, 110 (1801).

2 bob neal 10.06.07 at 5:53 pm

Amazing the judiciary has come to this. How dare Congress change the law before activists judges have the opportunity to do it first? Geesh.

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