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updated: 8/5/2013 4:19 PM

Federal judge dismisses suit stemming from 2011 Oak Brook shooting

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  • Jitka Vesel

      Jitka Vesel

 
 

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against a gun website by a prominent national gun control organization and the family of Jitka Vesel, a Czech immigrant murdered in an Oak Brook parking lot in 2011.

Officials from the Brady Center's Legal Action Project said when the suit was filed last December that it was the first of its kind against an online gun website tied to a shooting.

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Vesel, 36, of Westmont, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, Demetry Smirnov, on April 13, 2011, as she left a volunteer function at the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum on 22nd Street.

Smirnov, who is now serving a life sentence after confessing to the murder, purchased the .40-caliber handgun used to kill Vesel from a private dealer who placed a classified ad on Armslist.com. The dealer, Benedict Ladera, of Kent, Wash., served a one-year sentence for selling the gun to Smirnov, who was a citizen of Canada and not eligible for gun ownership.

The suit claimed the website's design encouraged prospective buyers to circumvent existing gun laws by allowing them to search for weapons for sale in all 50 states.

In a written opinion issued last week, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Norgle said Armslist.com "owes no duty to the general public to operate its website to control private individual users' sale of handguns."

Norgle wrote that the website isn't involved in sales transactions of firearms since it contains a "disclaimer that places the entire burden of complying with state and federal gun laws on the user of the website."

"The court finds that the criminal conduct of third-parties who misuse (the) defendant's website to illegally sell and buy firearms is not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the website design," Norgle wrote.

The judge also wrote that it was "speculative at best" that the website would enable illegal gun sales that would lead to criminal shootings.

Lawyers from the Brady Center, who represented Vesel's brother Alex Vesely in the suit, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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