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Judge Rules Kansas City Couple’s Suit Against Gun Manufacturer Can Move Forward

Suit Alleges the Company’s Actions Contributed to Illegal Distribution of Firearms

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, today released the following statement after a Jackson County court ruled that a wrongful death lawsuit can move forward against Jimenez Arms, Inc., a Nevada gun manufacturer, in connection with the 2016 shooting death of Alvino Dwight Crawford in Kansas City. Everytown Law is representing Mr. Crawford’s parents, along with attorneys from Williams Dirks Dameron LLC of Kansas City, Missouri.

“We know that this is just the first step, but we are pleased that the lawsuit is moving forward,” said Alvino and Beverly Crawford, the parents of Alvino Dwight Crawford. “Nothing can replace our son and we miss him dearly. Every day that goes by is a day without his smile. Gun manufacturers are the origins of guns and should be held accountable for illegal actions to the highest degree. Our hope is that this lawsuit will spare other families from feeling the kind of pain that our family has endured.” 

“The allegations in this case are that Jimenez Arms knowingly conspired with an alleged gun trafficker, propped up the trafficker by providing him with a steady stream of cheap, new guns, and concealed its dealings with the trafficker from law enforcement, enabling him to stay in business for five years,” said Alla Lefkowitz, director of affirmative litigation at Everytown Law. “The court correctly recognized that a gun manufacturer cannot escape the justice of Missouri courts under these circumstances.” 

Defendant Jimenez Arms, Inc. had filed a pair of motions to dismiss in the case. One motion argued that the Missouri legislature had immunized the gun industry from “public nuisance” lawsuits. The court rejected this argument, holding that Missouri law does not immunize against a claim of public nuisance that involves the  “unlawful  design, marketing, manufacture, distribution or sale of firearms or ammunition.” Jimenez Arms’ second motion argued that the Missouri courts had no power to hear the case against it because the murder weapon was shipped through a third-party out-of-state distributor. The court also rejected this argument, holding that the allegations in the complaint, “[c]ertainly…satisfy the requirement that Jimenez Arms knew or reasonably should have known that its alleged negligent acts could have effects in the State of Missouri.”

The lawsuit was filed in June 2019 by Alvino and Beverly Crawford against alleged participants in a trafficking ring that contributed to the death of their son, Alvino Dwight Crawford, in a 2016 shooting in Kansas City. The gun used to kill Dwight was one of 77 firearms alleged to be trafficked in the Kansas City area by former Kansas City firefighter, James Samuels, who faces federal criminal charges arising from this illegal firearms trafficking scheme. According to the lawsuit, other guns allegedly sold by the trafficking ring were recovered as part of criminal investigations in Kansas City and Chicago. The whereabouts of still dozens more of these illegally trafficked guns remain unknown. 

More information on the lawsuit is available here.