The case decided Tuesday by the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals concerns a woman murdered in 2011 with a .40-caliber handgun that a Seattle man advertised on Armslist for $400. A Canadian man bought the weapon.
Demetry Smirnov, the gun purchaser, murdered Jitka Vesel in Chicago with that weapon after an online romance soured. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. The man who sold him the gun, Benedict Ladera, was handed a year in jail for illegally selling the firearm, as federal regulations prohibit the transfer of weapons to people in another state or country, the appeals court said.
The slain woman’s brother, Alex, sued the website for damages, among other things, alleging negligence.
The court has dismissed the case. You can read the summary here.
Here are the essential bits:
But simply enabling consumers to use a legal service is far removed from encouraging them to commit an illegal act.
[ . . . ]
Armslist permitted Ladera to place an advertisement on its website and nothing more. It did not invite Ladera or Smirnov to break the law. Alexâ€™s allegations fall short of alleging any cognizable negligence claim for which Armslist could be held responsible for Smirnovâ€™s acts.
I think that all newspapers and online sites should welcome this decision. It would be no different than someone responding to a classified ad in a newspaper for a used car, buying that car, and then killing someone while drunk driving with it. You can’t hold the newspaper liable.
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