Internet Law

Website that facilitated sale of gun used in fatal shooting has no tort liability, 7th Circuit says

Corrected: A website that facilitated the illegal sale of a gun used to kill a woman has no liability in her death, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The Chicago-based 7th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for on Tuesday in a suit filed by the brother of the slain woman, Jitka Vesel, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog and the Volokh Conspiracy.

According to the opinion, Vesel was shot and killed in Illinois after she spurned the advances of a man she met online. The man, Demetry Smirnov, shot Vesel with a gun he obtained through a classified ad posted on, which allows the owners of guns and outdoor gear to post ads to sell their goods. The gun sale was illegal because Smirnov lived in Canada, and the seller lived in Washington.

The court said that, under Illinois law, had no affirmative duty to protect Vesel from a criminal attack by a third person unless it had a special relationship with Vesel. “The fact is that no relationship between Armslist and Jitka [Vesel], special or otherwise, ever existed,” the court said.

Spelling of “Vesel” and “Smirnov” corrected at 6:15 p.m.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.