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No appeal in Badger Guns case

The owners of a West Milwaukee gun shop will not be appealing the nearly $6 million, first-of-its-kind verdict a jury recently awarded to two police officers.

According to court records, Badger Guns, a shop once also called Badger Outdoors and now called Brew City Shooters Supply, and two Milwaukee officers, Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch, have reached a settlement. The agreement has led to the cancellation of a hearing once scheduled for post-judgement motions.

Both Norberg and Kunisch were on the Milwaukee police force in 2009 when they were shot by 18-year-old Julius Burton after pulling him over for a routine traffic stop. After Burton was found guilty and sentenced to 80 years in prison for the crime, Norberg and Kunisch sued the shop that had sold the weapon used to shoot them.

Badger Guns did not actually sell a gun to Burton but rather another man, Jacob Collins, who acted as a “straw buyer.” The plaintiffs alleged that it should have been obvious to the clerk at Badger Guns that Collins was not buying the firearm for himself. Burton, for instance, had gone so far as to tell Collins which the gun he wanted by pointing his finger at it.

A jury in October awarded the officers nearly $6 million. The verdict was hailed by many throughout the country as being the first of its kind and was deemed particularly remarkable in light of a federal law that, once passed in 2005, granted broad immunity to gun dealers.

Badger Guns’ defense lawyers had said they planned to file an appeal, which experts said would likely explore both the legal notion of negligent entrustment and the standard for proving that a defendant knowingly violated a state or federal law concerning the sale or marketing of a firearm.

James Vogts, attorney for Badger Guns, said Friday he was not at liberty to discuss any details of the settlement.

Patrick Dunphy, attorney for the officers and co-founder of Brookfield-based Cannon & Dunphy S.C., reached Saturday, also declined to comment on details of the settlement. He said his clients are filing a petition for the court to approve the settlement.


About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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