Gun industry lawsuit (re Sandy Hook shooting in USA)

In February 2014, relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting filed a lawsuit in the US against the gun manufacturer Bushmaster Firearms, the distributor Camfour Inc, and the East Windsor gun shop that sold the assault rifle.  In April 2016, a judge ruled that the case could proceed, rejecting the defendants' motions to dismiss.  In October 2016, the Connecticut superior court dismissed the case based on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, ruling that the companies could not be held liable for harm caused solely by the criminal misuse of a weapon.  In March 2017, the victims' families filed a brief in the state Supreme Court seeking to reinstate their lawsuit against the gun manufacturer.  In May 2017, the gun manufacturers asked the Connecticut Supreme Court to dismiss the case.  They argued that only the shop that sold the gun could face a negligent entrustment suit but that it would not be successful as the shop followed the law in selling the gun.

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3 April 2018

USA: Ruling in Sandy Hook lawsuit against gun makers to be delayed due to defendant co. Remington filing for bankruptcy

Author: Kristin Hussey, Rick Rojas, New York Times (USA)

"Remington’s Bankruptcy Stalls Ruling in Sandy Hook Families’ Suit", 1 Apr 2018

The lawsuit brought by family members of those killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been watched closely over years of winding its way through the court system.  But a new hurdle stands in the way of a much-awaited ruling.  Remington,...a defendant in the lawsuit, recently filed for bankruptcy as its sales have declined and debts have mounted...The case is now before the Connecticut Supreme Court, where families brought an appeal with the aim of bringing the case to a jury trial.  Remington’s bankruptcy does not guard the company from potential liability, but it has stalled the court from issuing a ruling on the lawsuit until the company emerges from the process...The families’ lawyers contend that the bankruptcy will ultimately have little influence on the case’s viability.  “The bankruptcy proceeding doesn’t affect our claim,” said Katie Mesner-Hage, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs...“The only thing the process does is delay it to some degree.”...Remington will remain in business as it reorganizes and unloads hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, according to court records.  The process could be expedited because the company is using a so-called prepackaged bankruptcy, which could be completed as early as May.  Remington’s lawyers did not respond to messages seeking comment...

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23 May 2017

USA: Gun manufacturers Remington & Bushmaster ask Connecticut Supreme Court to dismiss liability lawsuit by families of Sandy Hook shooting victims

Author: Robert Storace, Connecticut Law Tribune (USA)

"Gunmakers Urge Conn. Supreme Court to Toss Sandy Hook Case", 16 May 2017 [subsctiption required]

Two gunmakers facing a liability lawsuit in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are asking the Connecticut Supreme Court to toss out the case, largely on the same grounds they used to win a dismissal last year.

Gun manufacturers Remington and Bushmaster argued several of the victims' families have no standing under the negligent entrustment clause of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act or a separate federal law, which broadly protects manufacturers and distributors from liability suits. Remington owns Bushmaster, which made the AR-15 rifle used by Adam Lanza in the 2012 massacre...

The crux of the families' argument involves negligent entrustment and a claim that the gunmakers knew their product was dangerous, but sold it anyway...

The weapon was also legal in Connecticut when it was sold to Nancy Lanza [Adam Lanza's mother] in March 2010, and the manufacturers should not be responsible for the crimes her son committed in December 2012, according to the brief...

The families have until June 9 to file their response...

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24 April 2017

USA: Academics file brief in support of appeal of Sandy Hook families in lawsuit against gun makers

Author: Robert Storace, Connecticut Law Tribune (USA)

"Law Profs Say Gun Makers Should Be Liable for Sandy Hook Shooting", 19 Apr 2017 [subscription required]

Thirteen law professors who specialize in common-law torts have thrown their weight behind a negligent entrustment appeal lodged against the makers of the AR-15 rifle used in the Sandy Hook school shooting. Their 35-page amicus brief...focuses on how negligent entrustment should apply to Remington and Bushmaster Firearms...The brief was submitted in an appeal to the state Supreme Court...Attorneys for the [affected] families claim Remington, which sold the Bushmaster AR-15 used by Adam Lanza, knew or should have known the weapon was meant for war but was going to untrained civilians...Lanza fired 154 bullets in [5 minutes], killing more than two dozen people and injuring several others...

[also refers to Camfour Holding LLP, Riverview Sales]

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1 March 2017

Sandy Hook Parents File 1st Argument To Supreme Court In Gun Lawsuit Case

Author: Dave Altimari, Hartford Courant (USA)

Attorneys for families of some of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims have filed their first legal brief, seeking to have the state Supreme Court reinstate a lawsuit against gunmaker Remington Arms Co...[A]ttorney Josh Koskoff highlights the families' contention that Remington knowingly marketed a military weapon to a high-risk class of young males fascinated with violent video games, knowing before the 2012 school shooting that the AR-15 had become the weapon of choice for mass shooters..."Plaintiffs allege that Adam was a devoted player of first-person shooter games and partial to the AR-15 for committing virtual violence..."...The lawsuit also named Camfour Holding LLP, the gun's distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales, Inc., the East Windsor gun shop where Nancy Lanza, Adam's mother, bought the AR-15.

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25 January 2017

USA: Appellate court will have to innovate to overrule dismissal of Sandy Hook lawsuit against gun makers, legal experts say

Author: Robert Storace, Copyright Connecticut Law Journal (USA)

"Sandy Hook Plaintiffs’ Path to Trial Seen as Uphill", 23 Jan 2017

As the Connecticut Supreme Court is expected to begin later this year to hear an appeal from several families whose loved ones were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre..., legal experts...say the plaintiffs have a long, uphill battle.  The primary hurdle can only be cleared if the state’s high court rules that gun manufacturers bear responsibility under the theory of “negligent entrustment.”  Such a ruling would require the court to overrule Fairfield District Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis...Many legal experts...say many factors will need to fall into place in this first-impression case facing the high court for plaintiffs to prevail...Sachin S. Pandya, professor of law at the University of Connecticut Law School in Hartford, said the plaintiffs attorney...“are using negligent entrustment in a nontypical fashion. They are asking the court to innovate.”...If the plaintiffs are to win in the Connecticut Supreme Court, the court will not have to only overrule Bellis and find negligent entrustment applicable, but must also square such a finding with...a federal law passed in 2005...

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6 December 2016

USA: Connecticut Supreme Court to hear Sandy Hook families' appeal in lawsuit against gun makers

Author: Michele Gorman, Newsweek (US)

"Connecticut Supreme Court will hear Sandy Hook families’ appeal against gun companies", 1 Dec 2016

The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear an appeal from 10 families affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in their lawsuit against the maker and sellers of the weapon used in the December 2012 tragedy. The decision on Thursday comes about two weeks after nine families and a survivor filed their appeal against a judge’s dismissal of the case—and 13 days before the four-year anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut...Nine families and a survivor argue that the sale of the military-style rifle used in the mass shooting violated Connecticut law. The suit alleges that three gun companies negligently entrusted the rifle to the public and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act in marketing it to civilians.  Adam Lanza used the weapon to shoot his way into the school and kill 20 first-graders and six educators in less than five minutes on December 14, 2012.  In its decision to hear the case, the court accepted the families’ argument that the meaning of certain language in the state law must be determined by the high court...

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16 November 2016

USA: Plaintiffs in Sandy Hook school shooting case against gun makers appeal dismissal of claims

Author: Dave Altimari, Hartford Courant (USA)

"Sandy Hook Families Appeal Dismissal Of Gun Lawsuit", 16 Nov 2016

The families of some of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims Tuesday appealed a Superior Court judge's ruling dismissing their lawsuit against the manufacturer of the gun used in shooting.  The appeal was filed in Appellate Court, but the plaintiffs are requesting the case to be heard by the state Supreme Court..."The Supreme Court not only sets precedent but also reviews the applicability and relevance of prior decisions..."...The judge made it clear the families' claims that the gun company should be held liable...did not meet the narrow exceptions the federal law allows...The judge also ruled that the plaintiffs could not win under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA)...The families' appeal..."asks the Supreme Court to consider the scope of the common law of negligent entrustment in Connecticut and its application to circumstances and technology that could not have been contemplated when the cause of action was first recognized."...The families argue that the meaning of certain language in CUTPA must be determined by the Supreme Court...

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4 November 2016

USA: Plaintiffs in Sandy Hook shooting lawsuit against gun manufacturer to appeal court's rejection of claim

Author: Brad Durrell, Fairfield Sun (USA)

"Sandy Hook attorney promises appeal", 28 Oct 2016

The attorney representing Sandy Hook families against gun-maker Remington promised to appeal a recent state court decision rejecting their lawsuit...Koskoff said the families involved in the lawsuit remain resolute in their pursuit of justice, and he expects to file an appeal within 20 days.  In the ruling, the judge cited a federal law that gives gun manufacturers immunity from liability lawsuits.  Koskoff was highly critical of the profits made by gun companies...He said he became “really mad” as he studied the federal law...claiming the 2005 statute makes it virtually impossible to sue a gun maker...

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17 October 2016

USA: Judge rules that families cannot hold gun company liable for Sandy Hook shooting

Author: Lois Beckett, Guardian (USA)

"Sandy Hook families cannot hold gun company liable in massacre, judge rules", 15 Oct 2016

A Connecticut judge ruled on Friday that a group of families cannot hold gun companies liable for manufacturing, distributing or selling the AR-15-style rifle used to kill 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012.  The gun companies are protected by a 2005 federal law designed to shield gun companies from liability when their products are misused by criminals, Connecticut superior court judge Barbara Bellis ruled, granting the gun companies’ motion to strike the case...Gun rights advocates and gun companies say the law, which protects gun companies from liability “for the harm purely caused by criminal or unlawful use of firearm products”, is common sense...The defendants in the lawsuit include Bushmaster, the company that made the rifle; Camfour, a firearms distributor; and Riverview Gun Sales, the store where the gun was bought...To get around the shield law, lawyers for the Sandy Hook families had tried to argue that the manufacturer, distributor and dealer were all “negligent” to market and sell powerful military-style weapons to civilians.  The Connecticut judge rejected this argument...“Remington is pleased with the court’s decision today to strike the plaintiff’s complaint”...

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14 October 2016

Soto et al. v. Bushmaster et al. Decision on motions to strike

Author: Superior court of the judicial district of Fairfield at Bridgeport (USA)

[full text of the decision]

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