City of New York v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., No. 00 CV 3641.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtWeinstein
Citation401 F.Supp.2d 244
PartiesThe CITY OF NEW YORK, Plaintiff, v. BERETTA U.S.A. CORP., et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 00 CV 3641.
Decision Date02 December 2005
401 F.Supp.2d 244
The CITY OF NEW YORK, Plaintiff,
v.
BERETTA U.S.A. CORP., et al., Defendants.
No. 00 CV 3641.
United States District Court, E.D. New York.
December 2, 2005.

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Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, by Melanie Ash, Richard J. Costa, Eric Proshansky, Gail P. Rubin, New York, NY, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Legal Action Project, by Jonathan

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E. Lowy, Elizabeth Schickedanz Haile, Brian J. Siebel, Dennis A. Henigan, Washington, DC, Center for Constitutional Litigation, by Robert S. Peck, Washington DC, Thelen Reid & Priest, LLP, by Michel S. Elkin, Gabriel Mark Nugent, New York, NY, For Plaintiff City of New York.

Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander, LLC, by Lawrence S. Greenwald, Baltimore, MD, for Defendant Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, by Jonann E. Chiles, Jamie Huffman Jones, Little Rock, AK, Renzulli, Pisciotti & Renzulli, LLP, by John F. Renzulli, Leonard S. Rosenbaum, Scott Charles Allan, New York, NY, for Defendant Browning Arms Co.

Jones Day, by Thomas E. Fennell, Mark R. Hall, Joseph Anthony Strazzeri, Kelly J. Hunt, Patrick Carew, Paula Reichenstein, Michael L. Rice, Patrick G. Broderick, Dallas, TX, Pino & Associates, LLP, by Thomas E. Healy, White Plains, NY, for Defendant Colt's Manufacturing Co., Inc.

Budd Larner, P.C., by Bridgette E. Eckerson, Budd Larner, Prescott L. Nottingham, Timothy A. Bumann, Jennifer C. Kane, Kathleen C. Marchetti, J. Clayton Cheshire, Atlanta, GA, for Defendants Forjas Taurus, S.A. and Taurus International Manufacturing, Inc.

Renzulli, Pisciotti & Renzulli, LLP, by Christopher Renzulli, John F. Renzulli, Scott C. Allan, New York, NY, for Defendant Glock, Inc.

Tarics & Carrington, PC, by Michael J. Zomcik, Houston, TX, for Defendant Phoenix Arms.

Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, by Robert Laurent Joyce, New York, NY, for Defendant Sigarms, Inc.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP, by Alan Mansfield, New York, NY, Pietragallo, Bosick & Gordon, by Clem C. Trischler, Robert R. Leight, Pittsburgh, PA, Shook Hardy & Bacon, LLP, by Stacey Elaine Deere, Jeffrey Scott Nelson, Tina Marie Schaefer, Kansas City, MO, for Defendant Smith & Wesson Corp.

Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, LLP, by James P. Dorr, Sarah Liddell Olson, Chicago, IL, Gallagher Gosseen Faller Kaplan & Crowle, by William Edward Vita, Garden City, NY, for Defendant Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

The Chiafullo White Group, LLP, by Christopher M. Chiafullo, Watchung, NJ, for Defendants AcuSport Corp.; Alamo Leather Goods, Inc.; Bangers, L.P.; Bill Hicks & Co.; Brazas Sporting Arms, Inc.; Camfour Inc.; Chattanooga Shooting Supplies, Inc.; Davidson's Supply Co., Inc.; Dixie Shooters Supply, Inc.; Ellet Brothers, Inc.; Euclid Ave. Sales Co.; Faber Brothers, Inc.; Glen Zanders Fur and Sporting Goods Co.; Hicks, Inc.; Kiesler Police Supply, Inc.; Lew Horton Distributing Co.; Lipsey's Inc.; MKS Supply Co.; Riley's, Inc.; RSR Group, Inc.; Ron Shirk's Shooter's Supplies, Inc.; Southern Ohio Gun, Inc.; Sports South, Inc.; Valor Corp.; Walter Craig, Inc.; Williams Shooter's Supplies.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Office of Chief Counsel, by Barry Orlow, Esq., Washington DC, for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York, by Elliot M. Schachner, Brooklyn, NY, for United States.

Memorandum and Order Motion to Dismiss On Ground of Prohibitory Statute

WEINSTEIN, Senior District Judge.


Page 250

 TABLE OF CONTENTS
                 I. Introduction ....................................................................251
                 II. Complaint .......................................................................251
                III. Applicability of Act ............................................................258
                 A. Arguments of the Parties ....................................................258
                 1. Defendants' Contention that the Act Bars the Instant Litigation .........258
                 2. Plaintiff's Contention that the Instant Litigation is Allowed Under an
                 Exception to the Act ..................................................258
                 B. Applicability of Exception to the Instant Litigation ........................259
                 1. The Act .................................................................259
                 2. New York Penal Law Section 240.45 .......................................261
                 3. Requirement of a Federal or State Law "Applicable to" the Sale or
                 Marketing of Firearms .................................................261
                 a. Statutory Interpretation ............................................261
                 b. Power of Courts to Interpret Laws ...................................264
                 c. Legislative History .................................................266
                 4. Requirement of an Action "in Which" a Manufacturer or Seller
                 Violated a State or Federal Statute ...................................268
                 a. Time When Exception is to be Applied ................................268
                 b. Lack of Need for Prior Decision that Penal Law 240.45 was
                 Violated ..........................................................268
                 c. Adequacy of the Complaint to Raise Exception Issue ..................270
                 C. Conclusion as to Application ................................................271
                 IV. Constitutionality of Act ........................................................271
                 A. Introduction ................................................................271
                 B. Regional Conflicts ..........................................................272
                 1. History .................................................................272
                 2. The Present Conflict ....................................................273
                 3. Respect for Balancing by Congress .......................................276
                 C. Commerce Clause .............................................................280
                 1. Dormant Commerce Clause .................................................280
                 2. Legislative History of Act ..............................................281
                 3. Recent Commerce Clause Cases ............................................283
                 D. General Congressional Powers ................................................288
                 1. Preemption ..............................................................288
                 2. Deprivation of Existing Rights; Ex Post Facto ...........................289
                 3. Retroactivity ...........................................................289
                 4. Effect on Pending Cases .................................................290
                 E. First Amendment .............................................................293
                 F. Second Amendment ............................................................293
                 G. Tenth and Eleventh Amendments ...............................................293
                 H. Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments .............................................294
                 1. Due Process and Equal Protection ........................................294
                 2. Section 5 ...............................................................295
                 I. Conclusion as to Constitutionality ..........................................297
                 V. Stays ...........................................................................297
                 VI. Conclusion; Certification of Interlocutory Appeal; Stay .........................298
                APPENDIX — Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act .................................298
                

Page 251

I. Introduction

The City of New York ("City") sues the main suppliers of handguns in the United States ("Gun Industry") seeking injunctive relief and abatement of an alleged public nuisance caused by the Gun Industry's negligent and reckless merchandising. Standing to bring the action is based upon the City's police powers, its public health responsibilities (handguns are the cause of death to a majority of persons in one age-ethnic group) and New York State substantive law and equity. The likelihood of continuing harm to the City and its residents from negligent merchandising of handguns outside the state supports standing. See, e.g., Daniel A. Farber, Uncertainty as a Basis for Standing, 33 Hofstra L.Rev. 1123 (2005).

After extensive discovery and pretrial motion practice, trial was scheduled to begin on November 28, 2005. See Docket Entries to 1021. Prior decisions had demonstrated a factual basis for the City's suit. See N.A.A.C.P. v. Acusport, 271 F.Supp.2d 435 (E.D.N.Y.2003) (findings of fact and law); City of New York v. Beretta, 315 F.Supp.2d 256 (E.D.N.Y.2004) (denying motion to dismiss).

On October 26, 2005, the President of the United States approved the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, Pub.L. No. 109-92, 119 Stat. 2095 ("PLCAA" or "Act"). The Act, which was immediately effective, requires that a "qualified civil liability action that is pending on the date of enactment... shall be immediately dismissed." PLCAA § 3(b) (attached as the appendix to this memorandum). The stated purpose is to promptly terminate existing and prevent future "qualified civil liability actions," as defined by the Act.

On the afternoon of October 26, 2005, hours after the Act was signed into law, Defendants moved for a permanent stay and for dismissal. See Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mot.") 1 (Docket No. 997). They contend that the Act is constitutional. See Defs.' Reply Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss ("Defs.' Reply") 14-48 (Docket No. 1032).

Dismissal is opposed by the City on the grounds that (1) the Act is inapplicable because the case falls within an exception to a "qualified civil liability action," and (2), if the Act is applicable to the present litigation, it is unconstitutional. See Pl.'s Mem. in Opp. to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ("Pl.'s Second Mem. in Opp.") 1-3 (Docket No. 1027-1).

The United States has intervened for the limited purpose of defending the constitutionality of the Act. It takes no position on applicability. See Br. of the United...

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23 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Morrison, No. 04-CR-699 (DRH)(S-2).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 6, 2009
    ...tax or a "collected" tax, to trigger a violation. The term "applicable" means "capable of being applied." City of N.Y. v. Beretta, 401 F.Supp.2d 244, 261 (E.D.N.Y.2005) (noting common dictionary definitions of word "applicable.").[36] Defendant's attempt to equate applicability and enforcea......
  • City of New York v. Milhelm Attea & Bros., Inc., No. 06-CV-3620(CBA).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • April 30, 2008
    ...Page 347 have repeatedly held, the term "applicable" means "capable of being applied." See City of New York v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 401 F.Supp.2d 244, 261 (E.D.N.Y. 2005); Snyder v. Buck, 75 F.Supp. 902, 907 (D.D.C.1948). Section 471 is capable of being applied to the transactions at issue......
  • In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (Mtbe) Products, No. MDL 1358(SAS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • June 23, 2006
    ...479 U.S. 272, 281, 107 S.Ct. 683, 93 L.Ed.2d 613 (1987). 39. Id. at 90, 110 S.Ct. 2270. 40. City of New York v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 401 F.Supp.2d 244, 288 (E.D.N.Y.2005) (quotations 41. English, 496 U.S. at 79, 110 S.Ct. 2270 (citing Florida Lime, 373 U.S. at 142-43, 83 S.Ct. 1210). 42. E......
  • Adames v. Sheahan, No. 1-05-3911.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 29, 2007
    ...Central District of California in the context of nuisance claims against gun manufacturers. City of New York v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 401 F.Supp.2d 244, 266-67 (E.D.N.Y,2005); Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 421 F.Supp.2d 1274 While both of these courts are federal district courts in foreign jurisdic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • U.S. v. Morrison, No. 04-CR-699 (DRH)(S-2).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 6, 2009
    ...tax or a "collected" tax, to trigger a violation. The term "applicable" means "capable of being applied." City of N.Y. v. Beretta, 401 F.Supp.2d 244, 261 (E.D.N.Y.2005) (noting common dictionary definitions of word "applicable.").[36] Defendant's attempt to equate applicability and enforcea......
  • City of New York v. Milhelm Attea & Bros., Inc., No. 06-CV-3620(CBA).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • April 30, 2008
    ...Page 347 have repeatedly held, the term "applicable" means "capable of being applied." See City of New York v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 401 F.Supp.2d 244, 261 (E.D.N.Y. 2005); Snyder v. Buck, 75 F.Supp. 902, 907 (D.D.C.1948). Section 471 is capable of being applied to the transactions at issue......
  • In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (Mtbe) Products, No. MDL 1358(SAS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • June 23, 2006
    ...479 U.S. 272, 281, 107 S.Ct. 683, 93 L.Ed.2d 613 (1987). 39. Id. at 90, 110 S.Ct. 2270. 40. City of New York v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 401 F.Supp.2d 244, 288 (E.D.N.Y.2005) (quotations 41. English, 496 U.S. at 79, 110 S.Ct. 2270 (citing Florida Lime, 373 U.S. at 142-43, 83 S.Ct. 1210). 42. E......
  • Adames v. Sheahan, No. 1-05-3911.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 29, 2007
    ...Central District of California in the context of nuisance claims against gun manufacturers. City of New York v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 401 F.Supp.2d 244, 266-67 (E.D.N.Y,2005); Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 421 F.Supp.2d 1274 While both of these courts are federal district courts in foreign jurisdic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Limitations of 'Sic Utere Tuo...': Planning by Private Law Devices
    • United States
    • Land use planning and the environment: a casebook
    • January 23, 2010
    ...The PLCAA required that any pending “qualified civil liability action” be dismissed. In City of New York v. Baretta U.S.A. Corp., 401 F. Supp. 2d 244 (E.D.N.Y. 2005), the court, while refusing to find the PLCAA unconstitutional, held that the lawsuit could proceed because it fit within one ......

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