Court rules Sandy Hook lawsuit against Remington can proceed

Families of Sandy Hook shooting victims can sue gunmaker Remington over 2012 attack, court says

A CT court ruled Thursday that Remington Outdoor Company can be sued over the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to The Stamford Advocate.

The families of nine victims and a survivor of the massacre had brought the lawsuit, arguing that Remington should be held accountable.

Lanza used a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle during the shooting, which the plaintiffs argue is a similar weapon to the AR-15.

As reported by David Altimari at The Hartford Courant, a Bridgeport Superior Court judge had dismissed the lawsuit in 2016, stating that it fell afoul of provisions in the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) that shield gun manufacturers from liability when firearms they have made are used in crimes.

Families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre have successfully filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of AR-15 rifles, in a ruling that could have far-reaching implications for the gun industry.

The defendants counter that all of the plaintiffs' legal theories are not only barred under CT law, but also precluded by a federal statute, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).

The company may be guilty of making unlawful marketing claims, the court ruled, due to its promotion of a military-grade weapon for hunting and "recreational" use by civilians; its use of images of combat when selling the AR-15; and its use of slogans like "Consider your man card reissued".

Because this decision involves interpretation of a federal statute, the gunmaker will nearly certainly appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Remington could also prevail at a trial, so this is just a first step toward manufacturer liability.

"The families' goal has always been to shed light on Remington's calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense of Americans' safety".

Connecticut's child advocate said Lanza's severe and deteriorating mental health problems, his preoccupation with violence and access to his mother's legal weapons "proved a recipe for mass murder".

The court ruled that the case can move ahead based on a state law regarding unfair trade practice, although legal experts predict any appeal of the ruling by the gun maker would likely be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. "Today's decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal", Mr Koskoff said.

It also sets a precedent that could lead to more lawsuits against manufacturers whose guns are used in mass shootings.

The 2005 federal law has been cited by other courts that rejected lawsuits against gun makers and dealers in other high-profile shooting attacks, including the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting and the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings in 2002. Even though the court allowed the case to proceed, he said, there still be a very high bar for successfully suing Remington. A report was released November 25, 2013 by Connecticut State Attorney Stephen Sedensky III summarizing the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six women dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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