Suzanne Fountain was among 10 people who were killed after a gunman opened fire at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder two years ago. Now, her son is suing the gun manufacturer for being complicit in the attack due to how it marketed the weapon used.
Fountain was well-known in Boulder’s music and arts scene. The 59-year-old loved performing in the theater and was a part of eTown Hall for 10 years. Her son Nathaniel Getz in a lawsuit filed March 10 alleges gun-maker Sturm, Ruger and Co. used deceptive marketing practices by making an AR-556 that's legally classified as a pistol.
According to Getz’s attorney, Andrew Garza, they are seeking accountability.
“We filed the lawsuit to both to seek justice for the family of the victim, but also to hold them accountable and to serve a preventative function as well, to protect future victims,” Garza told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
“We believe they marketed it in a way that was meant to appeal to the militarization of young individuals, glorified lone shooters and, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, we think they had a moral responsibility to do better,” Garza said.
Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 23, faces more than 100 criminal charges for the March 2021 mass shooting in south Boulder. Alissa has been in the state mental health hospital since early 2022.
Getz’s seven-page complaint alleges the gun company made the pistol version to evade laws regulating rifles. It states Ruger designed the AR-556 to be sold with certain features that allowed the weapon to be converted to a rifle, while still preserving its classification as a pistol. The lawsuit also alleges the gun company violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. It was filed in Connecticut where the manufacturing company is based.
“As a result of its marketing campaigns, Ruger’s gross earnings from AR-15-style rifles nearly tripled from 2019 to 2021, increasing from $39 million to over $103 million,” the lawsuit reads.
Ruger designed the AR-556 in a way that it would use the same ammunition and magazines as the AR-15s, the lawsuit states.
In a similar case, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that gun maker Remington could be sued under an exemption by families that lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook shooting over how it marketed its Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Remington’s appeal of that ruling, and the company eventually settled with the families for $73 million.
Getz alleges Ruger’s marketing was unethical, oppressive, reckless and did not have regard for public safety. He is seeking an undisclosed amount in monetary compensation.
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