Sen. Tomes is carrying SB 95 which has an effective date retroactive to August 26, 1999. (h/t Indiana Law Blog). That’s so long ago that I was employed by the General Assembly at the time. And I haven’t worked there for a long, long time. The intent is to kill a specific lawsuit that has been around for all those years.
The background is that the City of Gary filed suit in September 1999 against various gun manufacturers on various theories. The suit has been allowed to proceed under the theory that, if the allegations were proven as true, they “are sufficient to allege an unreasonable chain of distribution of handguns sufficient to give rise to a public nuisance generated by all defendants.” See, Smith & Wesson v. City of Gary 875 N.E. 2d 422 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007) and City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson, 801 N.E.2d 1222 (Ind. 2003). State and federal legislation subsequently passed that immunizes gun manufacturers from such activity has not been sufficient to get the case dismissed.
Regardless of what you think about the lawsuit itself, this is horrible public policy. Reaching back in time to shield particular, well-connected, well-funded defendants and change the rules in their favor to the detriment of a particular plaintiff undermines the credibility of our legal system. The bill passed out of committee on a 7-1 vote and went through second reading without amendment. It is now eligible for third reading to be passed out of the Senate.
Rick Westerman says
Even if the defendants weren’t ‘well connected, well funded’ this type of law making — reaching back 15 years to change previous conditions — is indeed bad public policy and a mockery of the system.