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A federal judge in Brooklyn on Monday stayed New York City’s lawsuit against gun manufacturers as he prepares to consider whether recently passed legislation bars such claims. In a brief order, Eastern District Judge Jack B. Weinstein put the Nov. 28 trial on hold. On Nov. 21, he will have a hearing to consider the gun industry’s motion to dismiss the suit, which alleges that the sales and marketing practices of gun makers allow criminals to obtain guns, creating a public nuisance. Monday’s ruling came two days after the gun industry petitioned the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a writ of mandamus directing Weinstein to vacate the trial date and stay the case. Weinstein had previously agreed to hear arguments on the newly enacted legislation, but did not decide until Monday to vacate the trial date and impose a stay. The law in question, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, was signed by President George W. Bush on Oct. 26. It protects gun manufacturers from suits by crime victims. Attorneys for the gun industry argue that the legislation was specifically meant to apply to 20 pending suits brought by municipalities, including in New York. Attorneys for the city, however, argued in a recent letter to Judge Weinstein that the legislation did not apply to its suit, and is unconstitutional. The city contends that its suit falls under an exception to the legislation because the gun makers violated state statutes. According to the city, the manufacturers marketing and sales tactics violated New Penal Law �240.45, criminal nuisance in the second degree. The city also argues that the legislation is unconstitutional, as Congress has no authority to prescribe the rule of decisions governed by state law. It argues that the legislation also violates the separation of powers doctrine by ordering a court to reach a specific conclusion in a case before it. In its petition for a writ of mandamus, the gun manufacturers argued that the legislation was clearly designed to prevent all future claims and dismiss all current ones. The industry petition said gun makers should not suffer the high cost of litigation. “There can be no question but that the Act seeks to alleviate just the type of litigation burden defendants will face as this action continues, especially over the next three weeks and then into trial,” the petition to the 2nd Circuit said. “Congress’s goal to stop such burdens is evident from the Act’s call for an immediate dismissal of any pending action.” The city is represented by Assistant Corporation Counsel Eric Proshansky and Thelen Reid & Priest. Lawrence S. Greenwald of Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander in Baltimore is lead counsel for the gun industry.

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