BSA WINS ONE ! (So far)
E. C. HALE (ARTHALE@EKU.BITNET)
Fri, 9 Jul 1993 23:08:20 -0400
From: EDITOR & PUBLISHER - July 3, 1993
TEXAS COURT SAYS AD NOT LIABLE IN BOY'S DEATH
by M. L. Stein
A Texas appeals court has ruled that BOY'S LIFE magazine was not
responsible for the death of a 12-year-old youth from a gunshot wound
after he had read an advertising supplement on shooting sports.
In affirming a lower court decision, the 5th District Court of Appeals
in Dallas rejected the contention of the boy's mother that the ad
"presented a foreseeable and unreasonable risk of harm to youthful
Jan Way, the mother of the victim, Rocky William Miller, filed an $8
million damage suit against the Boy Scouts of America, National Shooting
Sports Foundation Inc. (NSSF), and Remington Arms Co. over the
advertising supplement in the September 1988 issue of BOY'S LIFE.
The 16-page ad by Remington Arms was sponsored by NSSF and included
articles with such headlines as "Earn Your Straight Shooter Award" and
"Getting Started in Shooting Sports" and "How It Feels to Carry Our Flag
at the Olympics." Also included was a checklist on firearms safety.
Miller and his friends reportedly found an old .22 caliber rifle and
cartridge. He was killed when the gun accidently discharged.
Said the appellate court: "Of greatest significance, the record does
not support the conclusion that Rocky's experimentation with the rifle
and cartridge was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the
The justices pointed out that photos on the supplement's cover
emphasized "supervision and use of firearms in a structured
environment," and cautioned that guns not be used in experimental ways.
The court also knocked down Way's argument that a Texas law
forbidding the sale of firearms to minors also applies to advertisement
because they are "offers to sell."
Its conclusion was that the law does not apply to ads.
"Such a sweeping interpretation as Way's would make virtually any
firearm advertisement in Texas illegal," the court said.
The court made reference to the Supreme Court ruling in the
classified-ad related suit against SOLDIER OF FORTUNE magazine but said
it did not apply to the BOY'S LIFE case. SOLDIER OF FORTUNE was held
liable in the contract murder of an Atlanta man whose killers were hired
through a classified ad.
The Boy Scouts of America and its co-defendants were represented by
Dallas attorney Thomas S. Leatherbury, who said he expected an appeal.
Leatherbury is president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of
The appeals court also ruled that defendants recover their costs in
the appeal from Way and Lawyer's Surety Corp., her bonding agency.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City