Mom Sues Gun Shop Over Accidental Gun Death, Wins $6 Million in Jury Decision
A Georgia mother was awarded $6 million by a jury for the accidental shooting death of her son in 2000. The defendant was a gun store owner who sold Tiffany Hardware, the plaintiff’s daughter, a handgun 14 years ago. The plaintiff was Hardware’s mother, Linda Bullard.
The gun in question was a Bryco/Jennings semi-automatic pistol chambered in .380ACP.
At some point, the gun jammed and Hardware returned the gun to the owner of Shurlington Jewelry and Pawn, where she purchased it. The owner, Ronald Richardson, was working at a liquor store he owned at the time.
The owner of the store was unable to clear the live round from the chamber and told Hardware to return on another day when his gunsmith would be at the shop. He returned the gun to her.
According to the Atlanta Journal of Constitution, the following happened when she brought the gun back home:
The boy died after his sister and Bullard’s 21-year-old daughter, Tiffany Hardware, dropped the [gun] on a glass table. The teenager was shot in the stomach.
Hardware bought the gun for protection in 2000 from Ronald Richardson, a family friend and owner of Shurlington Jewelry and Pawn. According to Lloyd Bell, one of her attorneys, Hardware worked at a call center at night and had been frightened when someone followed her to the home she shared with her mother and her brother and her own little girl.
Hardware paid less than $100 for the firearm when she purchased it. The company that made the firearm is now defunct. A quick search of various gun message boards reveals numerous reported problems with the company’s firearms.
Bullard was also awarded $2.2 million to be paid by the now defunct Bryco/Jennings corporation.
UPDATE: The following account was in the comments below posted by a person who claims to have been a juror on the case (who also emailed me) which has differing information from that provided by the AJC. Paragraph breaks added for readability, otherwise unedited.
Ok since NONE of you were actually involved in this specific case…let me tell you some information regarding this trial-because I was actually a “Juror” on this case. I possess a 4 year college degree from a prominent university so you can dismiss any of the previous negative juror comments, thanks! The “mother Linda Bullard” did NOT purchase this .380 Bryco/ Jennings gun-her 21 yr old daughter Tiffany Hardware purchased this gun bc she was followed home from work late one night after working at a call center. What you DO NOT understand is HOW the Law plays a major role in this case.
There were 12 of us and it was 7-5 then it was 9-3. I was one of the “3” that did NOT think the Pawn Shop/Federally Licensed Gun Dealer Ronald Richardson was guilty! There is SO much more to this case..we were there for a week. We deliberated on TWO things ONLY….and it took us 8 hours, mainly bc of me and two other jurors, wanting to vote Not Guilty. We heard 20 things, but we were only allowed to”vote” on TWO issues…we were NOT given these issues until the last day…I was one of the few taking vigorous notes and had 20+ pages at the conclusion, so I had everything down to use as a reference for Monday when we were to deliberate.
Did Tiffany ever purchase a gun before? No. Did she ever get gun safety training courses? No. Was she reckless and dangerous bc she “shot the gun in the air at a bbq/party” in an urban crowded space. Yes. Did she had a 2 yr old baby girl and a 15 year old brother in the house where she kept a loaded gun that she had NO idea how to use, Yes. Did Billy “William Bullard” her brother find the “hidden gun” and LOAD the weapon one time? Yes. Did she take the gun back to the ORIGINAL place that she purchased the gun “pawn shop”..she did but it was “closed” bc it was Sat @10:30pm. So she brought a friend w/ her and went down the street to the pawn shop owners’ OTHER place of business “a liquor store” She brought in a “loaded, jammed gun” to a public area..did she have a carry permit, probably not, we weren’t allowed to know b/c it wasn’t “relevant” to this aspect of the case… We were given both sides of the Defendant/Plaintiff arguments Told the Plaintiff was suing for “Wrongly death of her son Billy, and they wanted $10million” and then we were told to go sit in the jury room.
I went in there and to be honest I said there’s no way I’m paying her $10 mil. He is not guilty. We sat there and they excused the mystery “Juror #13/Alternate, who we had no clue” & either did she until they told her to leave..We had no idea WHAT we were supposed to be “voting about” until we were handed two pieces of paper with TWO very specific GEORGIA STATE GUN LAWS” It was a fight for 4 hours regarding weather or not the .380 Bryco Jennings gun was “defective” thereby “holding his company liable for the death of William Bullard” I said NO! The GBI did 6 drop fire tests, and 2 test fires, NO bullets “jammed” hence in my opinion and several others that meant it was not a “defective” gun it was just a crappy one…their “gun expert” only looked inside the gun at it’s parts and said it was for lack of better words ” a bottom rung gun” It’s a piece of crap, that is a fact-My fiance’ owns guns, he’s a military veteran and I know it’s a piece of junk, but that’s NOT what the question was that we had to answer, was it “DEFECTIVE?” I saw the actual receipts Mr. Richardson bought it for only $54, and it was sold to Tiffany for $89.
So…after waiting and trying to explain to this one juror that just bc a “gun JAMS” does NOT make it ultimately “defective” we decided on a unanimous NOT GUILTY on that one count. Now the hard part…Was he “liable” for the 15 yr old’s death, to me. NO. It was “Tiffany” his own inexperienced, uneducated, ill trained sister who “dropped the gun on the glass table” and accidentally fatal shot and killed her own 15 yr old brother. But that was NOT an option..was HE responsible…First vote we took without reading the actual “law” was 7-5 I believe…after breaking down the GA Law in how it was worded literally line by line (there were definitely some uneducated jurors in the room, don’t get me wrong, however me and 4 others were there to illustrate, and explain and give examples of every line so they could comprehend easier) ( One lady who had a flight to catch the next morning was playing Candy Crush, and I told her to turn it off and that this was a serious matter, and she said “I’m listening” I said No-turn it off! just to give you an example of the stress I was personally under bc I was taking this case seriously)
The law, and I need to get a copy I’m going to ask the Judge if it’s possible to get a copy of it, so I can post it….to show people HOW strict it was- stated (1) Was there an “Injury involved at all? Answer. YES. (2) Did what the Defendant do (by handing BACK a “loaded, fully cocked/engaged, jammed gun”) lead to any “possible” unseen or forseen danger in the future? Yes. The way it was “worded” The 3 of us ought all the way until that law was read, and we could have argued about it for 8 more hrs, but the law is so sneakily written that I’m not sure what he COULD have done to NOT get in trouble..keep the gun (now endangering other liquor store patrons, customers) and it was legally HER property so he could not under the law we read “take the gun” from here..I was telling myself that’s it, if there is no law saying he HAD to take the fun then he’s not guilty..but unfortunately with a few well written and placed words in a law…you HAVE to legally vote Guilty..I literally cried all the way home that night, for all of you who think we didn’t give a sh*t..I did and still do care, I want to tel him he’s NOT guilty in my eyes, but in the law’s eyes…he is guilty.
Trust me-this case has hanged my life bc you never know what you are “liable” for…you better read ALL of the small print and know exactly what you are and are not liable for. The law will get you regardless if you think or we think you are not liable. So…I welcome any “educated” comments or questions, bc there’s so much more to this case…..but any negative comments, I’ll pass. Now that you know the REAL story, feel free to ask any questions. Thanks.