A decade after an accidental shooting by a defective gun forever altered his life, teenager Brandon Maxfield and his attorney Richard Ruggieri managed to do what law enforcement and a dozen U.S. cities had attempted but never accomplished – hold accountable a manufacturer of guns so connected to crime and tragedy they were known as crime guns, junk guns, and listed in the government’s “Top Ten Guns Used in Crimes.” When the gunmaker filed bankruptcy to avoid paying his half of a $50,000,000 product liability award to Brandon, then schemed to resurrect the company, the teen launched a campaign to acquire the company himself and stop it from producing thousands more defective guns. Brandon’s and attorney Ruggieri’s efforts attracted support, and derision, as their story became international news.
Harkins crafts a taut legal drama reminiscent of Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action in this story of a heroic lawyer’s quest for justice for the victim of a defective firearm. Brandon Max was seven years old and living in Northern California with his mother and stepfather when in 1994 a bullet struck and paralyzed him. The firearm that caused the life-altering injury was a Bryco Model 38, which had a design defect: the safety needed to be disengaged before its chamber could be checked to see whether it contained any ammunition. Brandon’s parents’ initial attempt to sue the manufacturer went nowhere, but they get a second chance in 1999 when Brandon’s stepfather, Clint Stansberry, seeks out solo law practitioner Richard Ruggieri. After learning about the family tragedy, Ruggieri launches a seemingly quixotic lawsuit against the manufacturers of the weapon, an effort that lasts well over a decade and is complicated by the manufacturers’ efforts to evade responsibility by filing for bankruptcy. Harkins’s understated recounting makes a powerful argument that the government should have the authority to recall defective firearms. (BookLife)
Seth Godin, Author
"Urgent, poignant and powerfully written, this book reads like a thriller and makes us think hard about what sort of world we want to build."