Cop sues gun shop over weapon used in shootout

Marilyn Tennissen Aug. 13, 2007, 12:43pm

After a shootout on Interstate 10, a Beaumont police officer is suing the gun dealer that made the weapon available to the suspect.

Officer Jerry Lowe filed the suit against South East Texas Sports Inc. and E.G. Cordts Jr. individually and doing business as Southeast Texas Sports and Shooters Supply on Aug. 9 in Jefferson County District Court.

On Aug. 24, 2005, Lowe was conducting an interdiction, which is a law enforcement activity aimed at preventing drugs or other illegal items from entering a jurisdiction, at I-10 and Smith Road.

"A shootout occurred between law enforcement officers and James Thomas Hughes," the original plaintiff's petition states. "James Thomas Hughes was firing a weapon he obtained from defendants."

The plaintiff alleges that Hughes had a history of violent behavior, including an arrest for firing a gun at his workplace in 2004. Because of his background, Hughes was disqualified from selling weapons, but was employed where he had access to guns.

"Such acts and omissions . . . constituted negligence which proximately caused the injuries which plaintiff suffered," the suit states. "Defendants were guilty of gross negligence and plaintiff sues for punitive damages."

Lowe is seeking damages for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment.

The suit is also asking for exemplary damages.

Adam Terrell of Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell LLP of Beaumont is representing the plaintiff.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Case No. E179-786

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