(CN) - A huge defense company must face discovery to determine its relationship with a Turkish company that owes $25 million over a defective gun that misfired into a Philadelphia man's hand, a federal judge ruled.
Makina ve Kimya Endustrisi Kurumu (MKEK), which is wholly owned by the Turkish government, was originally found liable in 1984 for the injuries sustained by Robert Ohntrup.
While loading an MKEK handgun in 1975, the gun misfired three times, shooting a bullet went through Ohntrup's left hand.
He and his wife, Beverly Ohntrup, obtained an $847,000 verdict against MKEK and American gun distributor Firearms Center Inc., but MKEK refused to pay its share of the damages.
When the Ohntrups claimed that Turkey was liable as an alter ego of MKEK, the republic never respond to the couple's attempts at service.
Robert Ohntrup died in 2002, but his widow pursued their claims and U.S. District Judge Louis Pollak held MKEK in civil contempt that same year for not co-operating in discovery.
The fines against MKEK currently tally at about $25 million, according to an estimate from Ohntrup's attorney.
Several months ago, Ohntrup learned that nonparty Alliant Techsystems had "entered into a two-year $16.2M contract with MKEK 'on behalf of the Turkish Ministry of Defense' to provide training, components and technical support for indigenous production of [Alliant's] 25mm munitions in Turkey."
The widow sought a restraining order and discovery against Alliant to keep the Minneapolis-based defense contractor from disposing of or concealing any MKEK assets in its possession.
Alliant opposed the motion, claiming that the relief would "threaten multi-million dollar financial harm to [Alliant] and implicate national security issues dealing with arms sales to a key United States ally."
U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Faith Angell recommended granting discovery alone last month. Though Ohntrup claimed that she sought "only to maintain and preserve the status quo, with the ultimate goal of utilizing the execution process to collect the judgments where the property is located," she has requested relief that "is beyond the scope of a summary proceeding under Rule 3118," the report states.
Ohntrup objected, but Pollak adopted the recommendation on Feb. 28.
The judge set a 10-day clock for Ohntrup to resubmit her discovery requests and for Alliant to propose a protective order.