Federal Appeals Court Panel Rules That Gunshops Defamation Case Belongs in State Court
A federal appeals court panel has ruled that a defamation case brought by gun store owners against New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg should proceed in Georgia's Cobb County Superior Court, not federal court.
Finding that the federal courts don't have jurisdiction over the matter, the Dec. 19 ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the lawsuit be sent back to Marietta, where it was filed originally.
Jasper lawyer Edwin D. Marger, who represents the gun store and its owners, said his clients have a better chance of prevailing on their defamation suit in Cobb County than they would have had in federal court. Marger said his client Jay Wallace is a well-liked fixture in Cobb County.
The case was brought by Wallace, his wife, Cecilia, and their store, Adventure Outdoors. At the heart of their claims is a 2006 news conference in which Bloomberg announced that New York City was filing suit in U.S. District Court in New York against 26 gun dealers, including Adventure Outdoors, to force them to comply with laws governing firearm sales.
The New York suit, sought to put an end to so-called straw sales, in which a customer who is prohibited from buying a gun uses someone else to fill out the required forms. In a sting operation, New York City hired private investigators who posed as gun buyers.
Bloomberg said at the press conference that the gun dealers had sold guns that ended up in the hands of criminals in New York. He called the gun dealers "a group of bad apples who routinely ignore federal regulations."
Adventure Outdoors responded by suing New York City, Bloomberg and other city officials, as well as Georgia-based private investigators, claiming that the city had been negligent in investigating the gun dealer and that city officials had spread lies about the dealership and the Wallaces.