This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Utah Supreme Court has cleared the way for a lawsuit against the West Valley City pawnshop that sold a weapon to Trolley Square shooter Sulejman Talovic.
In an order filed Thursday, the high court denied a request from Rocky Mountain Utah, Inc., the parent company of Sportsman's Fast Cash, and Westley Wayne Hill to appeal a previous ruling from a district court judge.
Following a February hearing in 3rd District Court, Judge Glenn Iwasaki denied a request by the pawn shop to dismiss the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by shooting victim Carolyn Tuft.
Iwasaki said the case should be decided by a jury.
Tuft was wounded and her 15-year-old daughter, Kirsten Hinckley, was killed when Talovic, 18, walked into the Trolley Square mall and began gunning down shoppers on Feb. 12, 2007.
"We are pleased that a jury will get to decide whether Sportsman's Fast Cash should be held accountable for illegally supplying a gun to a dangerous, underage killer," said Paul Helmke in a news release,president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which is representing Tuft.
"This ruling sends a loud and clear message that no gun shop should be above the law," Helmke said in the news release.
Attorneys for the pawnshop had asked Iwasaki to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the pistol-grip shotgun that had been sold to the Talovic didn't qualify for the federal restrictions and argued the weapon was a shotgun legally sold to an 18-year-old. The pawnshop attorney argued that the weapon has a removable pistol grip and is designed and intended to be used with a shoulder stock, making it a shotgun.
Federal law prohibits the sale of a pistol-grip shotgun to anyone under 21, but at issue in the case is whether the weapon sold to Talovic qualified as a pistol-grip under the law. Hill, the clerk who sold Talovic the gun, pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor for failing to record Talovic, from Bosnia, as a resident alien. He received one year of probation and a $500 fine. As part of plea deal, prosecutors dropped a felony charge of selling a weapon to an unauthorized person.
But Tuft's attorneys argued the weapon was not sold with a shoulder stock and the shop should have known Talovic intended to use the gun in a crime.
Iwasaki found that there were too many uncertainties and that the issues of the case should be decided by a jury.
Aside from Tuft, Talovic wounded three others. He also killed Hinckley and four other people before dying in a shootout with police.
Stacy Hanson, one of the survivors, also is suing Sportsman's Fast Cash in Provo.
Attorneys for the pawnshop could not be reached for comment for this article.