News: Nassau County Loses $5M Lawsuit
(Long Island, N.Y.) The courts sided with the owner of a gun shop on Merrick Road in Seaford in a $5 million suit against Nassau County. The decision was upheld Wednesday in a Central Islip federal court. The $5 million was broken into $3 million compensatory and $2 million punitive damages.
The suit had been filed in 2008 and the owner was represented successfully by an attorney from Lake Success. According to reports, he owned a second gun shop in New Hyde Park and was arrested in June of 2007. The charge, which was later dismissed, was for reckless endangerment in the case of having a gun range inside his shop.
Conflicting information was presented about the charges. Some sources claimed that the gun range was a legal bullet trap and used to safely absorb bullets and scattered shards to conduct tests. Nassau County contests the verdict and claimed to have had a legally-sound probable cause for the arrest.
Ultimately, the courts decided in favor of the owner, who claimed wrongful allegations were made against him. Reports stated that a specific police officer, who still works in the pistol license section, was targeted in the suit. It was said that the arrest was related to a firearm issue between the gun shop owner and a friend of the officer.
Other sources claimed that the arrest was not a result of police harassment, stating that the gun shop owner had been selling illegal weapons. Charges including Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Second Degree, Unlawful Disposing of an Assault Weapon, and a misdemeanor violation of the Firearm Licensing Provisions were filed with a possible fifteen-year sentence. The business was charged with both first and second-degree Criminal Sale of a Firearm.
The gun owner’s license was suspended and later restored. His attorney argued that the business suffered from stigma associated with the arrest. An estimated nine-hundred guns could have been sold, as part of a figure pulled from sales of the previous year.
Another argument in the suit was that police didn’t check to see that the natural gas line located near the shop had been disconnected for decades. Amidst of all the charges against the gun shop owner, possible penalties included a $10k fine and double what the company allegedly gained by illegal means. The gun shop owner’s son, an employee from Bellmore, faced two counts of Manufacture, Transport, Disposition, Defacement of Weapons and Dangerous Instruments and Appliances.
Three other employees from West Islip, Oceanside, and North Babylon were also affected, the youngest of whom is in his twenties. According to reports, the gun shop owner is ready to get his life together. Some followers of the case claimed that the suit’s outcome had more to do with the courts aiming to send a message against police harassment.