Brady and Sommers Schwartz, P.C. Files Lawsuit Against Michigan Sporting Goods Store, Dunham’s Sports, Over Straw Purchase That Ended in Murder

Jun 20, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Brady and co-counsel Matthew Turner at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., on behalf of the family of Daniel Banaszak, Sr., filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Allegan County in Michigan against Dunham’s Sports for negligently and unlawfully selling a firearm to a “straw purchaser” that was used to kill Daniel Banaszak, Sr. that same day.

The suit alleges that on August 6, 2020, Dunham’s Sports, located in South Haven, Mich., knowingly violated the law and its duties as a licensed firearms dealer by selling a firearm to a straw purchaser despite clear indicators that she was not the actual purchaser.

The shooter, who was prohibited from possessing firearms due to a prior felony conviction, accompanied the straw purchaser to the gun counter, was visibly agitated throughout the transaction and paid for the gun himself. These indicators, along with the others alleged in the complaint, gave Dunham’s Sports more than sufficient information to spot and stop the unlawful straw purchase. Yet, Dunham’s Sports chose to deliberately ignore these dangerous signs, sold the firearm, and did not call law enforcement. The straw purchase sale was caught on camera. Following the sale, the straw purchaser transferred the firearm to the shooter, who used that gun to murder Banaszak within hours of the illicit purchase.

Straw purchases are one of the primary mechanisms by which individuals with felony convictions and others legally prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms illicitly acquire firearms. In this case, the straw purchaser was acting on behalf of an individual with a disqualifying felony conviction. .

The deadly consequence of Dunham’s Sports failure to act responsibly and lawfully underscores why it is so important for gun dealers to train, monitor and supervise their employees to stop and report straw sales. Banaszak’s family bought this lawsuit with the goal of reforming Dunham’s Sports’ negligent and unlawful practices and preventing future straw purchases that supply other violent criminals.

Douglas Letter, Brady’s Chief Legal Officer, said, “Nearly 90% of Michigan voters support background checks for gun purchases, which bar gun purchases by people who should not have them. The facts are clear that, in this case, Dunham’s Sports did not perform its duty and should not have facilitated an obvious straw purchase which ended in a very preventable tragedy.”

Matthew Turner of Sommers Schwartz said, “This might be the most obvious straw sale purchase that I have ever seen. In the form that the law requires to be completed prior to a sale, the purchaser answered honestly that she was buying the gun for someone else. Instead of immediately stopping the sale, the employee from Dunham’s suggested that she change the answer and then went forward with the sale. The gun laws on the books cannot protect people from violence when dealers like Dunham’s act dangerously and unreasonably.”

Stephen Banaszak, son of the victim, said, “My father would still be alive today if Dunham’s Sports had not acted irresponsibly and unlawfully. My family and I have unfortunately experienced firsthand the destruction that guns can cause when in the hands of people who should not have them. I am a gun owner myself and believe that negligent gun dealers must be held accountable and take responsibility when they sell guns in straw sales. ”

About Brady
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this major public health epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.

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Case Information
48th Circuit Court – Allegan County, Michigan

Our lawyers have been recognized nationally in personal injury and medical malpractice, commercial and business law, employment and wage and hour laws, and consumer protection. We try serious cases on behalf of people and families, businesses, and municipal entities seeking to enforce their rights. Because of our vast experience, our unmatched accomplishments, our synergy, size, and resources, we’re known as one of the top law firms in the country. We are the law firm that people and businesses turn to when so much hangs in the balance. Make no mistake, we fight hard and we win.

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