Press Conference: Highland Park Victims sue Smith & Wesson, others for role in July 4th mass shooting

Survivors of the mass shooting at the City of Highland Park’s Fourth of July Parade filed a set of lawsuits against the individuals and entities responsible for the shooting — Smith & Wesson, online gun distributor Bud’s Gun Shop, Illinois gun retailer Red Dot Arms, the shooter, and the shooter’s father — for their respective roles in making it possible for the shooter to carry out the massacre. The survivors are represented by Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, Everytown Law, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. The lawsuits allege that Smith & Wesson’s marketing of the murder weapon was unfair and deceptive, including because it misleadingly implies a non-existent association between its “M&P” (Military and Police) line of assault rifles and the U.S. military and because it knew that its marketing and sales practices promote and sell an image that caters to and attracts individuals like the shooter. The lawsuits further allege that two gun stores – online distributor Bud’s Gun Shop and retailer Red Dot Arms — negligently and illegally sold the murder weapon – a Smith & Wesson M&P assault rifle — to the shooter in violation of the assault weapons bans in Highwood and Highland Park, Illinois. The shooter used the assault rifle to murder seven people, wound more than 4 dozen more, and traumatize others gathered for the annual parade.

“The community in and around Highland Park has been devastated by this tragic shooting and too many lives have been lost or forever changed. Parents and grandparents lost their lives while simply trying to spend time with their families, others were shot and seriously wounded, including one young boy who has paid the highest price and will never ride his bike or run again. The use of a Smith & Wesson M&P15 for this nefarious purpose was predictable and preventable and there must be accountability for the corporate decisions that incubated this tragedy, clearly dismissing public safety while bringing in record earnings. With this litigation we intend to end the Smith & Wesson manipulation of consumers,” said Antonio M. Romanucci, founding partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC.

The plaintiffs in these cases include the families of individuals killed in the shooting, parade-goers who were shot and wounded, and people who were at the parade and traumatized by the shooting, including:

  • The Roberts family, whose eight-year-old boy was shot and paralyzed, with his twin brother suffering shrapnel wounds and his mother suffering a severe gunshot wound;
  • The estate of Nicholas Toledo, who was in town from Mexico with his wife, visiting their grandchildren;
  • The estate of Steven Strauss, who at 88 still worked five days a week as a stockbroker and leaves behind a wife and two adult sons;
  • The estate of Jacki Sundheim, who worked for decades at the North Shore Congregation Israel and leaves behind a husband and daughter;
  • Lauren Bennett, who was shot twice in her back, as well as her mother-in-law, Terrie Bennett, who was shot in the arm, and mother Debbie Samuels who was grazed by a bullet;
  • Lorena Rebollar Sedano, who was shot in the foot;
  • Mirna Rodriguez, who was shot in the backside;
  • Michael Zeifert, who was shot in his chest, and his wife, Dr. Christine Zeifert, who was with him at the parade;
  • Amelia Tenorio and her young son, who were both shot and wounded;
  • Silvia Vergara who was shot in the leg;
  • Over 30 other people who saw their family members shot and themselves suffered emotional trauma at the parade.

Plaintiffs are represented by founding partner Antonio M. Romanucci, managing and senior partner Gina A. DeBoni, partner David Neiman and partner Michael E. Holden from Romanucci & Blandin, LLC; Alla Lefkowitz, senior director of affirmative litigation, Krystan Hitchcock, counsel, and Lauren Keeley, litigation fellow from Everytown Law; and H. Christopher Boehning, partner, Jeffrey Recher, partner, and Carly Lagrotteria, associate from Paul, Weiss Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Full remarks from the filing press conference can be viewed here.

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