A Cook County judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the city against a gun store in northwestern Indiana in a brief hearing Thursday.
In April 2021, the city filed a lawsuit against Westforth Sports in Gary, Indiana, alleging that the store repeatedly violated federal gun control laws, often leading to criminal charges against straw buyers. The city also alleged that the store’s owner, Earl Westforth, ignored warnings from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about suspicious purchases at the store.
Lawyers for Westforth Sports filed a motion to dismiss last year. They argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the city’s claims relate to a transaction between Westforth and Indiana residents.
“When the issue involves a particular personal jurisdiction, the question is simple: Does the plaintiff prove that the alleged straw purchase transaction arose from or related to Westforth’s contacts with the State of Illinois? “If not, the plaintiff has not met its burden and the action must be dismissed,” Westforth’s attorneys wrote last year in support of the motion. “Plaintiffs allege or present evidence that such customers are ‘straw buyers’ or otherwise engage in third-party criminal trafficking practices that are central to the claims against Westforth. I haven’t.”
According to a 2017 report issued by the Chicago Police Department, Westforth Sports is the third largest supplier of criminal guns in Chicago. Westforth made 2.3% of all crime guns recovered in Chicago between 2013 and 2016, the department said.
In a statement released after Quish’s ruling, Westforth attorney Timothy Rudd said, “Constitutional due process allows the court to exclude claims against out-of-state firearm retailers from arising out of or relating to it. , properly found that it was not authorized to be dragged into an Illinois court.” Retailers themselves will be in contact with the state. ”
The city was represented by Everytown Law, Mayer Brown LLP, and city attorneys.
Ara Lefkowitz, senior director of positive litigation for the Everytown Act, said the city “found significant additional evidence of wrongdoing by Westforth, particularly in Illinois,” during the discovery process.
“The city has not yet had an opportunity to review the decision, but intends to proceed with its case against Westforth after reviewing the court’s ruling and determining the best course forward,” Lefkowitz said in a statement. Stated.