Taser Prevails in Calif. Wrongful Death Suit

July 19, 2005

After two years of litigation, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Taser International Inc., brought by the City of Madera, California.

The City of Madera alleged that one of its police officers shot and killed a man after mistaking her Glock service weapon for her Taser M26 stun device.

In 2002, after responding to a disturbance of the peace call involving
several youth, City of Madera police officer Marcy Noriega shot and killed 24-year old Everardo Torres, an up and coming Golden Gloves boxer, who was reportedly handcuffed in the back of a squad car.

Noriega reportedly claimed that she mistook her Glock for her Taser M26. Torres’ family – represented by the famed and recently deceased attorney Johnnie Cochran and his firm – sued the City and
Officer Noriega.

The City and Noriega sued Taser, claiming the Taser M26 was defectively designed due to it’s similarity to a real firearm, and that Taser failed to warn about the possibility of confusing it with a firearm. In a rare 50-page dismissal order, a federal judge dismissed the case Tuesday, saying the resemblance was obvious.

“Assuming that Plaintiffs’ allegations that the M26 is defectively similar to a handgun in functionality, design, and muscle memory, then the possibility of weapons confusion is obvious, especially when the M26 is worn close to a firearm,” U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii wrote in the order. “Under these circumstances, there is no duty to warn.”

Ishii dismissed all the claims, including negligence, design defect, and
indemnity, that the City brought against Taser.

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