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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Gun victim fails in weapons bid
Brandon Maxfield, who was paralysed from the neck down in a gun accident
Mr Maxfield was paralysed from the neck down in the accident
A teenage boy paralysed 10 years ago in a gun accident has failed to buy the firm which made the firearm at auction.

Brandon Maxfield had hoped to buy Bryco Arms and melt down its stock of 75,000 guns. But his final bid of $505,000 was bettered by the firm's ex-foreman.

Last year, he won millions of dollars from the firm when a court accepted a design defect was behind the accident.

But the owner of the company filed immediately for bankruptcy - shielding himself from the obligation to pay up.

On Thursday, Bryco's former foreman Paul Jimenez purchased the company for $510,000 after a bidding war.

Mr Maxfield, 17, claims the owner is trying to reconstitute Bryco Arms through his foreman, and had hoped to buy and melt down the entire stock to prevent him.

But despite an internet fundraising campaign, Mr Maxfield, was unable to beat Mr Jimenez's final bid.

"What happened today is a tragedy," Mr Maxfield was quoted as saying on his website.

"But please know that while I am heartbroken that we didn't keep those guns off the streets, I will continue to face battles everyday and continue to win."

Spine shattered

Mr Maxfield was seven years old when he was paralysed by a bullet accidentally fired by a 20-year-old babysitter who was trying to unload a gun.

It started with horror, the realisation that... there was nothing in the law to prevent them from putting these defective guns back on the market
Richard Ruggieri
Brandon Maxfield's lawyer

The bullet struck Mr Maxfield in the chin and exited through his neck, shattering his spine. Since then, he has spent more than 500 days in hospital and suffered pneumonia 28 times.

Doctors say his spine is degenerating and he will eventually require a metal rod in his neck.

In May 2003, Mr Maxfield argued successfully in court that Bryco Arms owner Bruce Jennings knew a defect in the design of the gun meant it was impossible to unload with the safety catch on.

He was awarded $51m in damages - $24m from Bryco Arms.

The Bryco-manufactured gun which paralysed Brandon Maxfield
A defect in the gun means it can only be unloaded with the safety catch off
However, the following day Mr Jennings filed for bankruptcy.

Before Thursday's auction, Mr Maxfield's lawyer claimed Mr Jimenez was being used as a front for Mr Jennings to buy back the company and begin trading again.

"It started with horror, the realisation that - notwithstanding the fact that we had this unanimous finding of defect - there was nothing in the law to prevent them from putting these defective guns back on the market," Richard Ruggieri told the Associated Press.

In a 1999 interview for Business Week magazine, Mr Jennings said if his company were sued, he would "go away until the litigation passes by, then re-form and build guns to the new standard - if there is a new standard".

The lawyer representing Mr Jennings has described Mr Maxfield's campaign as a publicity stunt.

"From our standpoint, it's not a moral question of keeping guns off the street or not," Ned Nashban said.

"Bankruptcy court is not the place to socially legislate. It's to create the most money to pay creditors."

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