Gun Violence Prevention Clinic and State of MN Prevail in Motion to Compel Hearing Against Fleet Farm

On March 12, 2024, Gun Violence Prevention Clinic students Will Roberts ’25 and Arielle Hugel ’25 argued in Federal District Court on behalf of the State of Minnesota before Magistrate Judge John Docherty ’86. The Gun Violence Prevention Clinic, led by Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Megan Walsh, is assisting the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in their lawsuit against Fleet Farm, in which the State alleges that Fleet Farm negligently sold firearms to straw purchasers. Guns bought and transferred by straw purchasers have been used in prominent Minnesota shootings, such as the recent shooting in Burnsville in which three first responders were shot and killed, and the 2021 mass shooting at St. Paul’s Seventh Street Truck Park Bar.

In their first appearance in federal court, both Hugel and Roberts argued portions of the State’s motion to compel Fleet Farm to produce firearm transaction records, employee evaluations, disciplinary files, and other requests crucial to the State’s claims. Judge Docherty ruled from the bench and compelled Fleet Farm to produce much of what the State requested.

Assistant Attorney General Katherine Moerke ’01, who leads the Fleet Farm team said, “Students Arielle Hugel and Will Roberts have served as core members of the legal team representing the State of Minnesota. They contributed to multiple aspects of obtaining discovery from Defendants, including identifying discovery issues, drafting letters explaining these issues, meeting, and conferring with opposing counsel, and ultimately presenting oral argument on discovery disputes before a federal magistrate judge.”

“Being able to stand up and argue in federal court is a great experience to have had so early in my career. The favorable outcome is testament to the hard work the team has been putting in for the past few months.” Roberts says. He continued, “This ruling gets us a few steps closer to making the people of Minnesota safer by holding negligent retailers liable for their part in facilitating straw purchases.”

“I’m so thankful to Professor Walsh and the Attorney General’s Office for trusting us with this opportunity and for providing us with valuable support,” Hugel says. “It’s been incredibly rewarding to contribute to our Attorney General’s important work through the Gun Violence Prevention Clinic.”

For more on the hearing, see the following stories:

Kare11: Federal judge orders Fleet Farm to turn over gun sale records in MN Attorney General lawsuit

Fox9: Judge: Fleet Farm must hand over gun sales records in straw purchase lawsuit

Megan Walsh
Megan Walsh
Visiting Clinical Professor of Law