15 U. Dayton L. Rev. 125 (1989-1990)
Kelly v. R.G. Industries: A Cause of Action for Assault Weapons

handle is hein.journals/udlr15 and id is 133 raw text is: KELLEY v. R.G. INDUSTRIES: A CAUSE OF
ACTION FOR ASSAULT WEAPONS
Joshua M. Horwitz*
I. INTRODUCTION
In Kelley v. R.G. Industries, Inc.,' the Maryland Court of Appeals
found, inter alia, that manufacturers and marketers of Saturday
Night Specials should be held strictly liable to innocent persons who
suffer gunshot injuries from the criminal use of their products.' The
Maryland Court of Appeals was the first court in the country to recog-
nize this cause of action.' Refusing to extend the traditional theories of
strict liability, the court fashioned a new cause of action. This note
discusses the cause of action recognized in the Kelley case, and argues
that it should be applied to marketers and manufacturers of semi-auto-
matic assault weapons when their products injure an innocent person
during the course of a crime.
II. FACTS AND HOLDING
In Kelley v. R.G. Industries, Inc.,4 the plaintiff, Olen J. Kelley was
shot during the armed robbery of a grocery store where he was em-
ployed.5 The unidentified robber, used a Rohm Revolver Handgun as-
sembled and sold by R.G. Industries, Inc. Kelley, joined by his wife,
filed a lawsuit against defendants Rohm and R.G. Industries, Inc. in
* Legal Director of Firearms Litigation Clearinghouse, a Project of the Educational Fund
to End Handgun Violence. B.A., University of Michigan, 1985; J.D., George Washington Univer-
sity, 1988.
1. 304 Md. 124, 497 A.2d 1143 (1985). Kelly was legislatively overridden by MD. ANN.
CODE art. 3A, § 36-1(h) (1988 Supp).
2. Kelley, 304 Md. at 157, 497 A.2d at 1159. Factors that define a Saturday Night Spe-
cial include: the gun's barrel length, concealability, cost, quality of materials, quality of manu-
facturer, accuracy, reliability, whether it has been banned from import by the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms, and other related characteristics. Id. at 145-46, 497 A.2d at 1153-54.
3. Id. at 156, 497 A.2d at 1159.
4. Id. at 124, 497 A.2d at 1143.
5. Id. at 128, 497 A.2d at 1144.
6. Id. at 128, 497 A.2d at 1145. The Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. § 925 (1983)
provides that handguns that do not meet criteria for importation as promulgated by the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and firearms (BATF) be denied importation. Id. at § 925(d)(3) However, the
law provides that the parts to handguns that are denied importation can be imported and assem-
bled in the United States. Id. Rohm Gesellschaft is a German firearms manufacturer that im-
ports parts to handguns denied importation as a whole. Riordan, Gun was made here, but sale is
outlawed, The Miami Herald, Apr. 1, 1981, at 7, col. 1. The parts are then assembled by R.G.
Industries in the United States.

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