Sutherland Springs Victims Could Sue U.S. Government For Negligence

Unlike gun manufacturers and sellers, the U.S. government could potentially be held accountable in this case.



By Alexandra Hart & Michael MarksNovember 10, 2017 1:45 pm

It is impossible to calculate the loss suffered by the survivors of the shooting at Sutherland Springs. Even if victims tried to sue for damages, the most obviously culpable person – the shooter – is dead. And that’s often the case at the end of such tragedies.

They try to sue the gun maker for damage, but that case would likely get tossed out of court, because of a law that shields gun and ammo makers from such claims.

John Culhane, professor of law and co-director of the Family Health Law and Policy Institute at Widener University School of Law, says there could be accountability in this shooting, though.

“In this case, we have a situation in which the government failed to follow its own rules and procedures, and we can say that that’s what led to this gunman being able to purchase a gun and then use it. So you have a culpable actor here, who is neither the shooter nor the seller of the gun.”

Culhane says the argument could win in court.

“If you have a policy in place and it’s carried out negligently, you’ve got a claim,” he says.


Written by Jen Rice.