Paul Clement joins challenge to New York law allowing gun lawsuits

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Attorney Paul Clement addresses colleagues, competitors and others at a party in honor of Clement's 75th argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington October 15, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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  • National Shooting Sports Foundation hires Paul Clement, Erin Murphy for appeal
  • Pair left Kirkland & Ellis following Supreme Court win and firm's move to drop 2nd Amendment clients

July 6 (Reuters) - Two star litigators who recently left law firm Kirkland & Ellis over its decision to stop taking 2nd Amendment cases are joining a firearms industry challenge to a novel New York law.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation said Wednesday that it has hired Paul Clement and Erin Murphy to appeal a judge's rejection of its challenge to a New York law that allows the state and people affected by gun violence to sue gun manufacturers.

NSSF, a firearms industry trade group, and gun manufacturers including Smith & Wesson Brands Inc and Sturm, Ruger & Co Inc are asking the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate their lawsuit challenging the law.

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Kirkland announced Clement and Murphy's departure on June 23, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the pair in striking down New York's limits on carrying concealed handguns in public in a 6-3 ruling.

The attorneys said the same day that they had launched a new Washington, D.C., law firm, Clement & Murphy.

Clement, while at Kirkland, had argued the Supreme Court case on behalf of a National Rifle Association affiliate, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.

He and Murphy departed after Kirkland, one of the largest corporate law firms in America, announced it would no longer represent clients in matters involving the U.S. Constitution's 2nd Amendment, which protects the right to bear arms.

"Both Clement and Murphy demonstrated bold and decisive resolve to stand with their clients instead of abandoning them at the behest of their previous firm," NSSF's general counsel Lawrence Keane said in a statement.

Clement and Kirkland did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

NSSF's case centers on a measure Democratic former New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law in July 2021 that seeks to overcome legal hurdles that have largely shielded the industry from lawsuits related to gun violence.

The law allows firearm sellers, manufacturers and distributors to be sued by the state, cities or individuals for creating a "public nuisance" that endangers the public's safety and health.

The gun industry group argued the law wrongly imposes liability on companies operating anywhere in the country that make, sell or market guns or ammunition that are misused by criminals in New York.

But U.S. District Judge Mae D'Agostino in May rejected their arguments that the law conflicted with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gives gunmakers protection from lawsuits, and unconstitutionally regulated interstate commerce.

The case is National Shooting Sports Foundation v. James, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 22-1374

For New York: Deputy Solicitor General Ester Murdukhayeva

For NSSF: Paul Clement and Erin Murphy of Clement & Murphy; and Scott Chesin of Shook, Hardy & Bacon

Read more:

Paul Clement to start new litigation firm as Kirkland eschews gun cases

U.S. Supreme Court expands gun rights, strikes down New York law

Gunmakers lose challenge to New York law allowing lawsuits against industry

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Nate Raymond reports on the federal judiciary and litigation. He can be reached at