Two of the victims who were injured during a mass shooting in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood in 2018 are looking to proceed with a $150-million class-action lawsuit against United States gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson Corp.
Lawyers for Samantha Price and Skye McLeod, along with their family members, filed a statement of claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Monday.
“The handgun is an ‘ultra-hazardous product specifically designed to injure or kill people. The handgun was negligently designed and manufactured in that Smith & Wesson failed to incorporate ‘authorized user’ (or ‘smart gun’) technology into the weapon,” the claim said, noting “smart gun” technology “prevents unauthorized users … from firing the weapon.”
“It was reasonably foreseeable that (the) defendant’s handgun products, like the handgun used in the Danforth shooting, would be in the hands of unauthorized users cause substantial harm to, or kill, innocent third parties.”
On the evening of July 22, 2018, Toronto police said 29-year-old Faisal Hussain went to Danforth Avenue and fired several shots.
Over the span of 10 minutes and several blocks heading west from Logan Avenue on Danforth Avenue, two people were killed — 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon — and 13 injured before officials said Hussain fatally shot himself in the head.
The gun used by Hussain was stolen from a Saskatchewan gun store.
The claim went on to cite statistics published in Canada and the United States that show how illegal guns were used in incidents that saw “innocent third parties” harmed.
It referenced a 2000 agreement between the United States government and Smith & Wesson that “agreed to incorporate smart gun technology in new firearm designs” by 2003.
“Despite the agreement, in 2005 the defendant introduced the Smith & Wesson M&P (or military and police) 40 series, the model of the handgun used in the Danforth shooting, which failed to include smart gun technology,” the claim said.
Lawyers argued Smith & Wesson “owed a duty” to the victims and their families “to ensure that any handguns it made available on the Canadian market were designed and manufactured to implement technology that would prevent unauthorized users from causing the very type of harm and injury suffered.”
Patrick McLeod, Skye McLeod’s father, and Ken Price, Samantha Price’s father, both said the lawsuit is about accountability.
“If this smart gun technology existed, then even the stolen guns coming up from the United States would have this technology and they’d be useless – that sort of industry would be obsolete,” Patrick told Global News Monday evening.
“[Guns] are inherently dangerous, so why aren’t they putting technology in these guns that make them a lot safer to own?”
Ken said he, Patrick and others, have called for more government action to be taken on handguns as well as for more to be done to tackle the root causes of gun violence. He said the legal process won’t be quick, but that they have to start somewhere.
“We hope to raise awareness for the fact that this should be a dialogue that’s happening anyway, which is, ‘What are we doing to make guns safer? What are we doing to build technology that’s in other devices?” Ken said, adding he recognizes gun hobbyists when they say they go through testing and other regulations.
“We would agree with that until people abuse that privilege, and so why wouldn’t they want to have something that deters that? And that’s where the smart gun technology should help in that process to align ownership rules to what the law is.”
The legal action still needs to be certified by the court and the claim hasn’t been proven in court.
Global News contacted Smith & Wesson Corp. for comment on the statement of claim, but a response wasn’t received by the time of publication.