Monday, November 11, 2013

Halliday v. Sturm, Ruger & Co. case brief

Halliday v. Sturm, Ruger & Co. case brief summary
792 A.2d 1145 (Md. 2002)

Petitioner decedent's mother sued respondent manufacturer, seeking damages for the death of her son, who shot himself with his father's gun, which was made by the manufacturer. The complaint alleged, inter alia, both a design defect in the gun and inadequate warnings. The trial court granted the manufacturer's motion for summary judgment. The Court of Special Appeals (Maryland) affirmed. The decedent's mother appealed.


The decedent's father bought the handgun and disregarded virtually every one of the warnings and safety opportunities he had been given with regard to the gun. The decedent, a three-year-old child, found the gun and shot himself while playing with it. The complaint alleged that the gun was defective and unreasonably dangerous as its design failed to incorporate reasonable devices to prevent its use by young children.


  • The appellate court found that there was no malfunction of the gun. 
  • Maryland had generally applied the "consumer expectation" test in products liability cases and a gun manufacturer could not be held liable under that theory for a gun which functioned as intended. 
  • The risk/utility test did not apply to a design defect unless the product malfunctioned in some way. 
  • A handgun did not malfunction when it shot a bullet into a person in whose direction it was fired. 
  • This remained the law in Maryland, and common law principles were not to be changed contrary to the public policy set forth by the general assembly of Maryland. 
  • The legislature had chosen not to place strict liability burdens on gun manufacturers.

The judgment was affirmed.

Suggested Study Aids For Tort Law

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