The families of three people killed during a shooting spree in eastern Pennsylvania last year are suing Wal-Mart, alleging the retail giant sold ammunition used in the slayings to a man who was underage and drunk.
Wal-Mart employees in Easton were negligent in selling .38-caliber ammunition to 20-year-old Robert Jordain, failing to ensure he was at least 21 as required by law, the suit said.
Jordain and two others have been charged with homicide in the July 5 deaths of Kory Ketrow, 22, in Easton and Francine Ramos, 32, and Trevor Gray, 21, in Allentown. The man who pulled the handgun's trigger that day is accused of killing seven people in two states.
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Wal-Mart said it will defend itself from the wrongful-death suit, which was filed last week in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
The ammunition that Jordain bought could have been used in either a handgun or a rifle, and "the law allows for rifle ammunition to be purchased by someone 18 years of age," Randy Hargrove, the chain's director of national media relations, said in a statement.
Until recently, sellers of guns and ammunition assumed they were protected from liability by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, NBC News reported.
But last year, a new precedent was set in a Wisconsin case when a jury found a Milwaukee gun store liable for selling a gun to a 21-year-old customer even though clerks had serious misgivings that the buyer was illegally buying the gun for someone else.
The gun was later used by an 18-year-old to shoot and critically wound two police officers, who were awarded damages by the jury.