By Nate Raymond, Reuters
January 22, 2024
BOSTON – A U.S. appeals court on Monday revived a $10 billion lawsuit by Mexico seeking to hold American gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating the trafficking of weapons to drug cartels across the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a lower-court judge’s decision dismissing the case on the grounds that a U.S. law barred Mexico from suing Smith & Wesson Brands (SWBI.O), opens new tab, Sturm, Ruger & Co (RGR.N), opens new tab and others.
That law, the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), provides the firearms industry broad protection from lawsuits over their products’ misuse.
Mexico’s lawyers argued the law only bars lawsuits over injuries that occur in the U.S. and does not shield the seven manufacturers and one distributor it sued from liability over the trafficking of guns to Mexican criminals.
U.S. Circuit Judge William Kayatta, writing for the three-judge panel, said that while the law can be applied to lawsuits by foreign governments, Mexico’s lawsuit “plausibly alleges a type of claim that is statutorily exempt from the PLCAA’s general prohibition.”
He said that was because the law was only designed to protect lawful firearms-related commerce, yet Mexico had accused the companies of aiding and abetting illegal gun sales by facilitating the trafficking of firearms into the country.
Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena called the ruling “great news” in a post on the social media platform X. The country’s U.S. lawyer, Steve Shadowen, called it “an important step forward in holding the gun industry accountable.”