CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4)– Before the Aurora theater shooting trial began, a lawsuit filed by the parents of a woman killed in the Colorado theater shootings, accusing four online retailers of improperly selling ammunition, tear gas, a high-capacity magazine and body armor used in the attack, was dismissed.
Now those companies want the parents of one of the victims, who filed the lawsuit, to pay hundreds of thousands in attorneys fees. The family claims they shouldn’t have to pay anything.
The parents of Jessica Ghawi, one of the 12 killed in the July 20, 2012 attack, Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, filed the lawsuit to try to change the companies’ business practices.
“We started asking the question, ‘How can someone who is mentally ill and known to be mentally ill, get his hands on all this ammunition?'” asked Lonnie.
A video played in the theater shooting trial this week showed James Holmes in an interview with a psychiatrist where he said he made a picture of himself and his arsenal to show, “I could buy all that stuff and nobody would notice.”
The lawsuit claimed that Holmes bought at least 4,300 rounds of ammunition from Lucky Gunner’s website, bulkammo.com, and 700 rounds of ammunition and a 100-round magazine from the Sportsman’s Guide website.
It read that Holmes bought two tear gas grenades from BTP Arms and four pieces of body armor from bulletproofbodyarmorhq.com.
In March, Judge Richard P. Matsch dismissed the lawsuit filed against the defendants in the case: Lucky Gunner of Knoxville, Tennessee, Bullet Proof Body Armor of Tempe, Arizona, BTP Arms of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and the Sportsman’s Guide of South St. Paul, Minnesota.
Matsch also ordered the Phillips to pay reasonable attorney fees.
“So this isn’t something special that is happening because of the victims in this case,” said Karen Steinhauser, a Denver defense attorney and former prosecutor who also is CBS4’s legal analyst.
The Phillips attorneys claim the defendants are seeking a windfall of $263,000. The couple attends each day of the trial with Sandy wearing a memento of her daughter.
“My scarf is Jessie’s scarf and I get hugs from her if I wear it… so I wear it everyday,” said Sandy.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence helped the family in the lawsuit and may be responsible for the attorney fees as well. The judge will have the final say.