Bankruptcy judge extends deadline for bids after paralyzed Willits youth raises funds
A Florida bankruptcy court has given a Willits teen another crack at buying the company that made a gun that left him paralyzed in an accidental shooting a decade ago.
“Thank God. I’m just happy we have more time to raise some money,” said 17-year-old Brandon Maxfield on Friday.
Maxfield wants to buy Bryco Arms’ Costa Mesa plant and melt down more than 70,000 unassembled guns at the facility. He says his motive is to prevent another child from being hurt or killed.
Maxfield was left a quadriplegic when a Bryco-made gun accidentally discharged, sending a bullet through his chin and spine.
Maxfield failed to raise the $175,000 necessary to outbid Bryco’s foreman when bankruptcy court bids were first due June 17. The bankruptcy judge tentatively accepted the foreman’s $150,000 bid, but said he would consider arguments for an Extension.
Since then, donors have poured more than $175,000 into Maxfield’s Internet fund-raising campaign.
In his Thursday ruling, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Jerry Funk said he’d extended the bidding to Aug. 12 to raise as much money as possible for Bryco’s creditors. They include Maxfield, who has a $24 million Alameda County court judgment against Bryco owner Bruce Jennings.
Jennings filed for bankruptcy days after a jury found him and his gun companies 48 percent at fault for Maxfield’s injury. Maxfield’s parents, the family friend handling the gun when it fired, and a pawn shop were assigned 52 percent of the fault.
Funk’s extension gives Maxfield and his attorneys almost a month to raise enough money to counter new bids from Bryco’s foreman, Paul Jimenez.
“We’re definitely within striking range, but we’ve got to be prepared to meet competing bids,” said Richard Ruggieri, Maxfield’s California attorney.
Ruggieri would not disclose how much money has been donated to Maxfield’s cause other than the $175,000 he submitted as a bid last week.
If Jennings backs Jimenez, the bidding could escalate, Ruggieri said.
Ruggieri contends Jimenez is a front for Jennings. If Jimenez gets the plant, he can promptly assemble the guns and sell them for several million dollars, he said.
“They’d be back in business with a new, temporary name on the door and with millions of dollars in their pockets. Good work if you can get it,” he said.
Jennings’ attorney, Ned Nashban, has denied the allegation.
He said Friday he welcomes additional bids.
“I hope these two bidders get into a bidding war and we raise a lot of money,” Nashban said, noting that another creditor has entered a $175,000 bid.
Ruggieri said he doesn’t expect that bidder, Linda Bullard, to compete with Maxfield.
Bullard, who has a pending lawsuit against Jennings for a gun injury her son suffered, is on Maxfield’s side, he said. Ruggieri said she entered her bid as a safety measure.
“There’s not going to be a bidding war between us,” Ruggieri said.
Maxfield’s Web site is www.brandonsarms.org
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By GLENDA ANDERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT