Police gear company removed from lawsuit

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 21, 2008, 2:17pm

A manufacturer and distributor of police gear removed a Madison County case to federal court arguing procedural requirements for removal have been met.

Ralls, an Aramark Company, removed Granite City police officer Jeremy Hunter's complaint arguing federal court has diversity jurisdiction because the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

In addition, Ralls argues removal is proper because the parties in the case are completely diverse. Ralls is an LLC organized under the laws of Delaware with its principal place of business in Kentucky.

Ralls also argues that co-defendant, Smith & Wesson, is also organized under the laws of Delaware and its principal place of business is in California.

Hunter filed suit against the defendants alleging he was injured after a gun he was carrying in a holster fired on its own.

Hunter was on duty as a Granite City police officer on Sept. 25, 2006, at 7:23 p.m., when the gun he was carrying in a holster discharged "without any action by Plaintiff to make it do so," states his complaint filed Sept. 9.

He alleges the defendants were negligent because they either designed or sold a weapon that had safety mechanisms that failed to prevent it from discharging without the trigger pulled.

Hunter also alleges the firearm's manual was vague and confusing and failed to warn him of the danger of carrying a weapon loaded.

The holster's design failed to prevent the firearm's hammer from moving, which caused the weapon to fire, the suit states.

The manual for the holster also did not sufficiently warn of the possibility of a firearm discharging while in it, according to the complaint.

Represented by Donald Flack of Wood River, Hunter claims his foot was injured, which caused and continues to cause great pain, medical expenses, lost wages, disability and disfigurement.

His wife, Alysha Hunter is also seeking damages alleging her husband's injuries have deprived her of her husband's society and services including his support, devotion, care, society and consortium.

They are seeking a judgment in excess of $350,000.

Ralls is represented by Matthew Hendricks of St. Louis.

The case has been assigned to District Judge J. Phil Gilbert in Benton.

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