Published: Sat, March 16, 2019

Court Revives Sandy Hook Shooting Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturer Remington

Court Revives Sandy Hook Shooting Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturer Remington

"The Connecticut Supreme Court has blown a very large hole into the federal immunity for firearms manufacturers in lawsuits alleging criminal misuse of the products they sell", Mr Lytton said.

Gun rights supporters say the decision is judicial activism and overreach and predict the lawsuit will ultimately fail.

With the decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the lower court's dismissal and allowed one key aspect of the suit to proceed. Bushmaster is owned by Remington.

"The regulation of advertising that threatens the public's health, safety, and morals has always been considered a core exercise of the states' police powers", wrote Justice Richard Powers. However, in CT and several other states, they have been banned since April, 2013. The case was ordered back to a trial court, where a survivor and the families of nine victims will be able to bring their argument in front of a jury.

The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, has provided the United States firearms industry an nearly impenetrable defense against lawsuits by victims of mass shootings and gun violence, broadly shielding Remington and others such as American Outdoor Brands Corp, Sturm Ruger & Co and Vista Outdoor Inc from liability.

Remington declined to comment.

Nine of the families originally filed the lawsuit in 2014, and have faced delays as the case was sent from federal to state-level courts and as Remington filed for bankruptcy a year ago. Four days after 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, most students in Newtown returned to school. He fatally shot her with the gun before beginning the attack at the school.

Joshua Roberts  Reuters FILEAR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks Pa. Oct. 6 2017
Joshua Roberts Reuters FILEAR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks Pa. Oct. 6 2017

The decision represents a major victory for the families of the 20 first-grade children and six educators who were killed in one of the deadliest mass shootings in USA history, which inflamed outrage among gun control advocates who demanded lawmakers work to prevent mass shooting. "But what we've said from the outset is, all we want is our day in court", he said. "This is a step forward to ensure that manufacturers like Remington are not allowed to keep targeting people who are at risk".

The trade association for the firearms industry called the ruling a disappointment.

"The majority's decision today is at odds with all other state and federal appellate courts that have interpreted the scope of the exception", the group said in a statement, adding it "respectfully disagrees with and is disappointed by the court's majority decision".

CT law, the court wrote in the majority opinion, "does not permit advertisements that promote or encourage violent, criminal behavior".

"It's a wow moment in American legal history", he said. "It will change the legal landscape for this industry, potentially all across the country".

Justice Richard Powers, who heard the case in CT, sided with the plaintiffs as he ruled that their allegations are a valid basis for the lawsuit to be returned to a lower court. They argue that Remington glorified the weapon in marketing it to young people.

In a 4-3 opinion, the court narrowly ruled that families of victims of the Newtown school shooting can challenge whether Remington violated trade practices in how it marketed the AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting.


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