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  • Negligence and Public Nuisance Against Gun Distributor: Banaszak v. Dunham’s Sports

Sommers Schwartz attorneys Matthew Turner and Rob Sickels along with the Brady Center in Washington DC, filed a lawsuit against Dunham’s Sports, seeking to hold the gun distributor responsible for negligently and unlawfully selling a 12-gauge shotgun to a “straw purchaser” who was buying the shotgun for Robert Eakins Jr, a prohibited purchaser.  

Eakins was prohibited from purchasing the weapon because of a prior felony conviction. Just hours after the illegal sale was completed, Eakens used the shotgun to murder Mr. Banaszak. He was convicted and given a life sentence for the crime.

This suit alleges that Dunham’s employees knowingly and negligently violated the law and their duties as licensed firearms dealers during the sale. Despite Mr. Eakins and his straw purchaser displaying a constellation of “red flags” that made it clear that Eakins was the actual purchaser of the gun, the employees allowed the purchase to continue.  These include Eakins being in the store at the time of purchase, handling the gun and paying for the gun.           

The lawsuit alleges Dunham’s had knowledge that the buyer was a straw purchaser violating state and federal law and failed to comply with the law and its duty of reasonable care. It claims Dunham’s deliberately and negligently ignored one or more indications that the sale was unlawful, should have reasonably foreseen Eakins would have illegal access to the firearm and cause harm, and failed to take reasonable action to prevent the sale and subsequent harm from occurring. Banaszak’s family hopes to hold the store responsible for its reckless, irresponsible, and unlawful actions. They also want to change Dunham’s Sports’ negligent and wrongful practices to prevent future illegal sales, including straw purchases, that supply other violent criminals.

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