MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin gun shop will pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit in which a jury found it negligently sold a gun used to injure two Milwaukee police officers, the store’s attorney said.
The settlement eliminates what was expected to be a yearslong appeal of an October verdict in which jurors awarded Officer Bryan Norberg and former Officer Graham Kunisch nearly $6 million.
An attorney for Badger Guns, James Vogts, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1QaOzBU ) late Friday that the case has “been settled and dismissed.”
“This case is over,” Vogts said. He declined to say why his client decided not to appeal.
A jury found that found that Badger Guns and its owner negligently sold the gun to a straw buyer — someone buying a gun for someone who cannot legally purchase one.
Kunisch and Norberg sued Badger Guns, its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, and the owners five years ago.
Out of the $1 million settlement, Kunisch, who has retired from the department on duty disability, will receive $216,120, while Norberg will receive $74,427. The rest is split up among the city, lawyers’ fees and other costs.
The officers’ attorney, Patrick Dunphy, didn’t respond to requests for comment Saturday.
A separate lawsuit, filed by two different Milwaukee officers also wounded with a gun from the shop, remains set for trial in May.
Norberg and Kunisch were both shot in the face after they stopped Julius Burton for riding his bike on the sidewalk in 2009. Investigators said Burton got the weapon, a Taurus .40-calibre handgun, a month earlier, after giving $40 to another man, Jacob Collins, to make the purchase at the store in West Milwaukee.
One bullet shattered eight of Norberg’s teeth, blew through his cheek and lodged into his shoulder. He remains on the force but said his wounds have made his work difficult. Kunisch was shot several times, resulting in him losing an eye and part of the frontal lobe of his brain. He said the wounds forced him to retire.
Jurors ordered the store to pay Norberg $1.5 million and Kunisch $3.6 million. The jury also ruled the store must pay $730,000 in punitive damages.
The gun shop’s attorneys denied wrongdoing. They said the owner at the time of the sale, Adam Allan, couldn’t be held financially responsible for crimes connected to a weapon sold at his shop and that the clerk who sold the weapon didn’t intentionally commit a crime. Rather, they said Collins and Burton went out of their way to deceive him.
The case was only the second of its kind nationwide to make it to a jury since Congress passed a law a decade ago holding gun dealers and manufacturers largely immune from such lawsuits. In the first, a jury found in favour of a gun store in Alaska.
Burton pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree attempted intentional homicide and is serving an 80-year sentence. Collins got a two-year sentence after pleading guilty to making a straw purchase for an underage buyer.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com