The Chicago Edelson PC law firm and the anti-gun violence organization Brady filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of Liz Turnipseed, one of the victims of the July 4 shootings in Highland Park, Illinois, against gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, claiming the company engaged in "unlawful marketing" of its products that caused criminal behavior.
"You don't expect to go to your child's first parade and leave with something other than happy memories, but instead, I left with shrapnel permanently lodged in my body," Turnipseed said in a joint press release from the organizations Wednesday. "This lawsuit will hopefully keep other families and other communities from suffering the same way that we and the Highland Park community have suffered."
Turnipseed was one of the dozens injured and seven killed when Robert Crimo III allegedly opened fire on a crowd gathered for the annual Fourth of July parade in the suburb of Chicago.
Crimo III, who has pleaded not guilty to 117 felony counts in the attack, was indicted by a Lake County grand jury July 28, NPR reported.
The legal action, which includes other victims of the shootings as well, blames Smith & Wesson for targeting adolescents "drawn to the risk-taking associated with militaristic weapons and combat missions" in advertising the weapon used in the attack.
"The Highland Park community has rallied together and is emerging from the shooting stronger than ever," Edelson partner Ari Scharg, who is a Highland Park resident and was at the parade with his wife and young children, said in the release. "Liz and the other victims now have a historic opportunity to hold one of the most powerful and profitable gun companies accountable for inspiring generations of mass shooters. We have all the energy in the world for this fight."
The suit alleges that the M&P 15 rifle used in the attack, and also used in separate mass shootings in San Bernadino, California, and Parkland, Florida, is similar to weapons featured in first-person shooter video games like Call of Duty, which appeal to teens.
"These plaintiffs are seeking to stop the irresponsible and unlawful sale and marketing of weapons of war like the ones used in the Highland Park attack," Erin Davis, Senior Counsel for Trial and Appellate Litigation at Brady, said in the release. "We hope this lawsuit will prevent future tragedies, save more families from pain, and keep our communities safe."
According to the release, Edelson and Romanucci & Blandin are co-leading a high-profile coalition of law firms and firearm safety organizations that represent plaintiffs in the filing of multiple related complaints.
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