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Paul, Weiss Sues Smith & Wesson on Behalf of Highland Park Shooting Victims

As reported by The Chicago Sun Times, ABC News, The American Lawyer, Reuters and other media outlets, Paul, Weiss, together with Romanucci & Blandin, LLC and Everytown Law, filed several lawsuits on behalf of victims of the deadly July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.

In our complaints filed in Illinois state court, we allege that Smith & Wesson intentionally markets its rifles to “disturbed young men” who have time and again been the perpetrators of mass shootings. Smith & Wesson’s M&P rifles have been repeatedly used in mass shootings, including those in Aurora, Colorado, San Bernardino, California and Parkland, Florida.

We allege that the company’s deceptive and unfair marketing practices are designed to appeal to the impulsive, risk-taking tendencies of civilian adolescent and young adult men in the same way that the tobacco and alcohol industries historically exploited young consumers’ vulnerability and attraction to thrill seeking. For example, Smith & Wesson promises that its assault rifles will provide “More Adrenaline,” encourages consumers to “Kick Brass,” and models advertisements after first-person shooter video games. We also allege that the company’s marketing confers credibility on its weapons by promoting an association between its guns and the military or law enforcement—known as the “halo” effect—in its imagery, despite no actual affiliation with the military, and uses social media influencers to push civilian purchases by showing followers how to use M&P assault rifles in combat-like situations. The lawsuits claim violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, negligence, aiding and abetting, and other claims, and seek substantial monetary damages.

The new litigation follows an earlier lawsuit in which Paul, Weiss played a key role, Soto, et al. v. Remington Arms Co. That lawsuit, on behalf of the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., likewise targeted the marketing practices of Remington Arms, the manufacturer of the military assault rifle used in that shooting; in February 2022, Paul, Weiss attorneys helped secure a landmark $73 million settlement.

The Paul, Weiss team includes litigation partners Christopher Boehning and Jeffrey Recher, and associates Carly Lagrotteria, Cara Hume, Jacob Humerick, Alex Beer and Shauna Shalvey.

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