Nelson Martinez, Sr. and Maria Martinez, etc., Appellants,
Taurus International Manufacturing, Inc., et al., Appellees.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower
Tribunal No. 16-10776, Jorge E. Cueto, Judge.
& Glasser, and Patricia M. Kipnis (Cherry Hill, New
Jersey); Morris Haynes Wheeles Knowles & Nelson, and
Matthew G. Garmon (Birmingham, Alabama); Leesfield Scolaro,
P.A., and Thomas Scolaro and Justin B. Shapiro, for
Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial, LLC, and Gary J.
Toman (Atlanta, Georgia), Lawrence E. Burkhalter and
Alexander Heydemann; Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, and
Dana G. Bradford, II and James H. Cummings (Jacksonville),
EMAS, SCALES and LUCK, JJ.
plaintiffs below, Nelson Martinez, Sr. and Maria Martinez are
the parents of Nelson Martinez, Jr. ("Nelson") and
are the co-personal representatives of Nelson's estate,
which is also a co-appellant. They seek review of a final
summary judgment that concluded, as a matter of law, that
defendants, Taurus International Manufacturing, Inc. and
Taurus Holdings, Inc. (together,
"Taurus") are immune from appellants' wrongful
death action by virtue of 15 U.S.C. § 7903(5)(A), the
Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act ("the
Act"). We reverse the trial court's summary judgment
because genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether
appellants' lawsuit is a "qualified civil liability
action" that would trigger the Act's immunity
Relevant Facts and Procedural Background
February of 2014, twenty-one-year-old Nelson purchased a
Taurus .45 caliber model PT24/7 pistol from a pawn shop in
Hialeah, Florida. Nelson lived in an efficiency apartment
with his sister and her husband, and late in the night of May
1, 2014, Nelson took the pistol into the apartment's
bathroom and locked the door. The pistol discharged and
Nelson died as a result of a gunshot wound to his head, the
bullet having entered through his left eye.
both the Hialeah Police Department and the Miami-Dade Medical
Examiner concluded that Nelson committed suicide,
Nelson's parents and his estate brought the instant
lawsuit against Taurus alleging that a pistol defect caused
Relevant Background Facts
Nelson purchased the pistol in February of 2014, he was
required, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922, to complete,
under penalty of perjury, ATF Form 4473 entitled
"Firearms Transaction Record Part I -
Over-the-Counter." A question on this form asked whether
Nelson was a user of marijuana (and other drugs). He
responded "no." The record reflects, though, that
Nelson had a history of alcohol and marijuana use, including
an arrest for possession of marijuana in 2011. In December of
2013, two months before his purchase of the pistol, Nelson
admitted marijuana use to his primary care physician (this
admission appears on the "history" portion of an
intake form). In depositions, his family members admitted to
Nelson's periodic marijuana use.
Medical Examiner's toxicology report indicates the
presence of apparently unprescribed controlled substances of
the Benzodiazepine class (Alprazolem, Diazepam and
Nordiazepam), as well ...