Gunmakers call on Jones Day, Cozen to defend against Mexico lawsuit

A man handles a Ruger revolver during the National Rifle Association annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, April 27, 2019. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson

  • Jones Day’s team includes former US lawyer Noel Francisco and Andrew Lelling, former US lawyer
  • US arms makers coordinate joint response to claims they have created a ‘public nuisance’ in Mexico
  • Mexico has agreed to pay up to $ 1 million a year to the Texas plaintiff’s firm leading the litigation

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Reuters

Defense firms, including Jones Day, Cozen O’Connor and Day Pitney, said in a court filing Tuesday that they would represent defendants in the case that Mexico filed in federal court in Massachusetts last month. The firms are working with litigation shops and other regional law offices to coordinate a joint brief responding to Mexico’s claims, according to the new case.

August 4 in Mexico complaint accused some of the country’s largest gunmakers, including Smith & Wesson Brands Inc, Sturm, Ruger & Co Inc and Glock Inc, of “persistently supplying a torrent of guns” to drug cartels in Mexico . “The defendants are fully aware of the massive trafficking of their firearms to Mexico,” the lawsuit said, accusing the gun manufacturers of creating a “public nuisance” in Mexico.

Jones Day partner Noel Francisco, who heads the firm’s office in Washington, DC and served as the United States’ Solicitor General in the administration of former President Donald Trump, represents Massachusetts-based Smith & Wesson , with his partner Andrew Lelling. Lelling, former US attorney for Massachusetts, joined Jones Day in February to help build the Boston office.

Ruger, based in Connecticut, is represented by Day Pitney and the Chicago-based company Swanson, Martin & Bell. Lawyers for Philadelphia-based Cozen O’Connor appeared in the defendant Beretta USA Corp. case.

The attorneys at Cornell & Gollub’s product liability firm in Boston represent Glock Inc at the Renzulli law firm based in White Plains, New York.

Defense attorneys for Jones Day, Cozen, Day Pitney and Cornell Gollub declined to comment on Wednesday or did not respond to a message requesting comment.

Lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Steve Shadowen, of Austin, Texas-based Shadowen, declined to comment.

Mexico has agreed to pay Shadowen’s company up to $ 1 million per year to represent the country in its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The company said it will cut its hourly rates in half as part of its work for Mexico.

Defense attorneys for firearms manufacturers said in Tuesday’s filing that some issues in upcoming motions to dismiss the lawsuit are expected to “overlap significantly.”

The lawyers said they plan to file a shared brief as “the most efficient way to bring these issues to court.” The companies’ individual briefs will present narrower issues, the lawyers said.

Jones Day has long represented gun, tobacco and other clients in lawsuits alleging public nuisance complaints. The firm boasts on its website of having “been and remains at the forefront of the defense of public nuisance litigation”.

Smith & Wesson has engaged other major law firms for litigation work in recent years. Companies such as DLA Piper and Shook, Hardy & Bacon have appeared as counsel for the company in various cases.

The case is Estados Unidos Mexicanos v. Smith & Wesson Brands Inc, US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, No. 1: 21-cv-11269.

For Mexico: Steve Shadowen from Shadowen

For Glock Inc: Peter Durney of Cornell & Gollub; and John Renzulli of Renzulli law firm

For Smith & Wesson Brands Inc: Noel Francisco and Andrew Lelling of Jones Day

For Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc: James Campbell of Campbell Conroy & O’Neil; and James Porter of Porter Porter & Hassinger

For Beretta USA Corp: John McDonald of Cozen O’Connor

For Colt’s Manufacturing Company: John O’Neill of Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen; and Michael Rice of Harrison Law

For Sturm, Ruger & Co Inc: Jonathan Handler of Day Pitney; and James Vogts of Swanson, Martin & Bell

For Century International Arms Inc: Joseph Yannetti of Morrison Mahoney and Anthony Pisciotti of Pisciotti Lallis Erdreich

Read more:

Texas law firm cuts rates to champion Mexican cause against gunmakers

Mexico sues US arms makers, plans $ 10 billion in damages

Smith & Wesson face prosecution of synagogue shooting victims

Choice of US Ambassador to Mexico reveals WilmerHale’s salary

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