PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CBS12) – The estate of a boy stabbed to death during a sleepover in Palm Beach Gardens is suing Publix Supermarkets.

Corey Johnson faces one count of first-degree murder with a deadly weapon and two counts of attempted first-degree murder with a deadly weapon. He’s accused of killing 13-year-old Jovanni Sierra on the boy’s birthday at a home in Ballenisles on Mar. 12, 2018.

The LaBovick Law Group claims Publix illegally sold the knife that Johnson used to kill Jovanni and stab Elaine Simon and her son, Dane Bancroft.

Publix illegally sold murder weapon to teen in sleepover stabbings, lawsuit claims.

This is a head scratcher. Where is the legal basis for this? It comes to the old question of when does tool become a weapon and can you ban distribution if no Mens Rea is present. The lawyers enage in a verbose shaming of Publix with statements like “Publix has refused to change their reckless policy of selling knives to underage buyers and has spurned Florida law by intentionally failing to check identification before selling dangerous weapons to underage knife purchasers”

Here is the money quote (Pun intended)

The firm claims Johnson bought the knife at Publix hours before the attack. It’s against the law in Florida to sell any weapons to people under the age of 18.

IANAl and surely do not have Florida Statutes 790 memorized, but I do n ot recall anything about minors forbidden to own knives. So I downloaded the lawsuit (always read the source) and things started to get clearer:

They almost got it. The only section in 790 that deals with minors being sold/transferred a weapon is 790.18 which reads:

Now, unless the lawyers manage to prove that Publix is a licensed dealer, I do not see how they are planning to win this case, unless the only thing they really want is for Publix to settle  out of court as fast as possible to avoid bad publicity and unnecessary legal expenses..

“Hey, for $100K we stop this and have everybody a non disclosure agreement and nobody accepts/issues blame. Deal?… OK we will take $75K”

Anyway, that is my uneducated opinion.

Hat Tip to Jeffrey B.

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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

14 thoughts on “Publix Supermarkets Sued For Selling Weapons.”
  1. That would be like suing Home Depot for selling a brick or a stick (2×2) that’s used to clobber someone to death.

    Can we think of ANYTHING ELSE that could possibly be used as a weapon?

    Nuts, even a vast quantity of Jello can be used to smother someone. Publix could be in big trouble here.

  2. IANAL, but….

    It’s not just proving Publix is a “dealer”. The statute mentions two types of knives by name/style: “bowie knife or dirk knife”. The former should be self-explanatory (or think, “Mick’s big knife in Crocodile Dundee“), and the latter is a medieval thrusting dagger that was usually worn as a sidearm to a proper sword. Either way, big, heavy blades intended to be worn and used as weapons (but which also have some general utility).

    I haven’t seen the knife in question in the case, but I rather doubt any kitchen knife you’d find at Publix could reasonably be classified as either a “bowie knife” or a “dirk knife”, and thus the statute does not apply.

    But again, IANAL….

    1. Then there’s the whole “dealer in arms” clarification in the statute, which Publix is not. That just bolsters the “not a licensed dealer” argument.

      Besides which, if this lawsuit succeeds, then Publix ends up the same as any general store in the UK: forced to label packages and check IDs on purchases of plastic utensils, because “There are KNIVES in there!!!!”


  3. I can only guess that since Publix sells those knives, that automatically makes them a dealer of those knives. IANAL, either, but I also suspect this is one of those same things mentioned at the end, settle out of court, for an undisclosed amount. Although Publix is big enough to fight this one, and might choose to nip this in the bud right here and now.

  4. Maybe the ambulance chaser thought he was in London. I hope Publix decides it’s better to go full scorched earth on this clown including suing for costs and an ethics complaint to discourage endless B’s suits like this.

  5. Does the law actually define “Bowie knife” or “dirk”? At one time NH outlawed dirks and various other esoteric things (perhaps “poniard”, I don’t remember). But there were no definitions of those objects in the law or any other law, so clearly those bans had no effect.

  6. As far as defining something in law; another made-up lawyer get rich trick. I just checked and my dictionaries (Websters Unabridged 1979 and 1828) provide clear – unambiguous – definitions that anyone with a 5th grade education can read and comprehend. Well, except for lawyers in need of money, apparently. And judges . . .

  7. So if a high school kid goes to work for a fast casual restaurant and has to use a chef’s knife to cut lettuce or tomatoes, will that restaurant be guilty of illegally transferring a weapon to a minor?

    What about a 17 year old out on his own for the first time? Can he/she not buy a basic set of kitchen knives?

    This shit is ridiculous in the UK, it can’t be allowed to make its way to the US.

  8. Absolutely Redunkulous. :-\

    Guess we can expect Publix to bend the knee yet again and put on their stores them idiotic “knife surrendering bins” the UK uses…?

    Jeeze freaking Louise. RMESHISMB

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