Remington Must Face Sandy Hook Suit, Connecticut's Top Court Says

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 16, 2019

The families of Sandy Hook school shooting victims have claimed another key court victory as they continue pursuing a lawsuit against the companies that manufactured and sold the weapon Adam Lanza used during the 2012 massacre. "Today's decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal", said Josh Koskoff, one of the attorneys for the families, in a statement. Investigators said he was obsessed with mass shooters.

Instead, it would depend on the justices' interpretation of the broader legal question of whether federal courts should generally be allowed to interfere in state law, experts said.

They argue the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used by Newtown shooter Adam Lanza is too risky for the public and Remington glorified the weapon in marketing it to young people, including those with mental illness.

The lawsuit argues that such messages would appeal to a troubled young man like Lanza, that they may have influenced him to choose the XM15 from among his mother's guns when he attacked the elementary school, and that the attack would have been less deadly if he had used a different gun.

On Thursday, the justices ruled that while the lower court was correct in dismissing numerous plaintiffs' claims in the wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiffs should be allowed to proceed with arguments on whether Remington's marketing of the weapon violated state trade practices.

Remington attorneys previously argued that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects companies involved in the sale of the gun that ended up in Lanza's hands from this exact kind of lawsuit. In reinstating a case that a lower court dismissed in 2016, the court seemingly adopted the families' novel way around a federal law that protects the gun industry from liability.

"We have always said our case is about reckless sales and marketing to disturbed youth", Hockley said.

The US Supreme Court has trended toward rejecting state law claims that are barred by federal law, he said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry's trade association, said it was reviewing the decision and did not have an immediate comment. They argue the AR-15-style rifle used by shooter Adam Lanza was designed as a military killing machine and is too unsafe for the public, but Remington glorified the weapon in marketing it to young people.

Military-style rifles have been used in many other mass shootings, including in Las Vegas in October 2017 when 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured. The lawsuit will now allow the plaintiffs to gain access to internal Remington documents that can shed light on its advertising practices. Since gunmakers have in recent history been shielded from litigation, company officials may have felt emboldened to openly discuss tactics, marketing strategies and other revealing details about business dealings. The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with Bellis: "We expressly reject the plaintiffs' theory that, merely by selling semiautomatic rifles-which were legal at the time-to the civilian population, the defendants became responsible for any crimes committed with those weapons".

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