Highland Park shooting victim’s family sues Smith & Wesson

The family of a Waukegan man killed at Highland Park’s 2022 Fourth of July parade is suing gun maker Smith & Wesson, alleging it marketed an AR-15-style weapon to teenagers despite its use in mass shootings.

The lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of the family of Eduardo Uvaldo, one of seven people killed in the mass shooting. A group of survivors and families of children who were at the parade also are part of the lawsuit.

“Eduardo was a kind, loving, hardworking man who adored his family,” the Uvaldo family said in a joint statement. “He was taken too soon because of the actions of both a disturbed man and the greedy corporation that made and marketed his weapon.”

A representative of Smith & Wesson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The complaint also names and Red Dot Arms, alleging both sold the weapon to someone they knew was not allowed to have it.

Robert E. Crimo III faces 21 counts of first-degree murder and dozens of other charges stemming from the shooting, which also wounded nearly 50 people ranging in age from 8 to 88. The 23-year-old Highwood man was expected to plead guilty on Wednesday, but backed out of the deal at the last minute.

The complaint was filed by the law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder which in 2022 won a $73 million settlement for Sandy Hook families against Remington for its marketing of the weapon used in the 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school. The firm also represents families who lost loved ones in the 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“Smith & Wesson was once an iconic American company that did things the right way — they refused to even make AR-15s — until new leadership with complete disregard for public safety transformed the company from the model of responsibility to one of recklessness,” Koskoff said in a news release. “Smith & Wesson learned that while mass shootings were horrific for families and communities across America, they were also great for business. With each new mass shooting came a sales surge, and the company doubled down on its strategy to reach youth and promote a first-person style shooting experience.”

The suit is similar to one filed against the gun manufacturer in 2022 by several other Highland Park survivors and victims’ families. In a key ruling earlier this year, an appeals court rejected the company’s bid to move the litigation from state court to federal court, which historically have been less welcoming toward product liability claims against gun makers.

Karina Mendez, the daughter of Eduardo Uvaldo, speaks outside the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan last week after the suspect in the 2022 mass shooting in Highland Park backed out of a plea deal. Uvaldo’s family has now sued gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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