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- First suit by shooting victims to exclusively target magazine maker
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(Reuters) - Survivors of a 2019 mass shooting that killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio have sued the manufacturer of the large-capacity magazine that allowed the gunman to fire 41 shots in 30 seconds without reloading.
In a complaint filed Sunday in Clark County, Nevada, the survivors, along with deceased victims' family members, said Nevada-based Kyung Chang Industry USA Inc and its South Korean parent company Kyungchang Industry Co Ltd recklessly sold "instruments of slaughter without any reasonable safeguards, screening or limits."
The plaintiffs, represented by lawyers including Jonathan Lowy of Brady and Benjamin Cooper of Cooper Elliott, are bringing claims including negligence, wrongful death and public nuisance, and are seeking an injunction barring the 100-round magazines at issue without reasonable safeguards to prevent misuse. They are also seeking unspecified monetary damages.
A spokesperson for KCI could not immediately be reached for comment.
Connor Betts opened fire in a Dayton nightlife district on Aug. 4, 2019, killing nine people, including his sister, and wounding 17 before he was killed by police.
Police subsequently recovered a 100-round large-capacity magazine (LCM) that allowed Betts to fire repeatedly without reloading.
The plaintiffs in Sunday's lawsuit said the component was unreasonably dangerous for any non-military use. They said Betts had acquired the magazine from an online retailer identified on KCI's public-facing website.
"Defendants knew that LCMs have been used repeatedly to slaughter and terrorize Americans in a string of horrific mass shootings," they said. "They knew that mass killers are attracted to LCMs, because they desire them for maximum killing. They knew that the online market was particularly attractive for some killers and their suppliers."
The plaintiffs said the manufacturer breached its duty under Nevada law to put in place safety measures that would have prevented their products' criminal use. Such safety measures include checks to ensure that 100-round magazines are only sold to people with a legitimate use for them, requiring all such sales to be conducted in person and performing criminal background checks.
"I want to make sure that the actions of all those that were responsible that day don't go unanswered, for my grandchildren," plaintiff LaSandra James, mother of one of the victims and guardian to the victim's child, said at a press conference on Monday.
Plaintiffs' lawyers said they believed the lawsuit was the first over a shooting to target a magazine manufacturer exclusively, though magazine manufacturers have been sued alongside other defendants in the past.
Litigation against gun manufacturers and retailers has often been stymied by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which generally shields the defendants from liability for crimes committed with their guns. However, some state courts have found in recent years that manufacturers can be liable in some circumstances, particularly if they violate state laws.
The case is Green v. Kyung Chang Industry USA Inc et al, Clark County, Nevada District Court, No. A-21-838762-C.
For plaintiffs: Jonathan Lowy of Brady; Benjamin Cooper of Cooper Elliott; Joey Mott of Claggett & Sykes; and John Sloan of Sloan, Hatcher, Perry, Runge, Robertson, Smith and Jones
For KCI: Not immediately available