Connecticut Supreme Court reinstates Sandy Hook parents' lawsuit against gun manufacturer

March 14, 2019
A 4-3 decision overturns a lower court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit against the manufacturer of the rifle used in the 2012 shooting attack at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

Families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings have won a court major victory as their lawsuit against gun manufacturer Remington was reinstated by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The Hartford Courant reports that the court, in a 4-3 decision, reversed a lower court ruling dismissing the lawsuit.

The case has been remanded to Bridgeport Superior Court and may create a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, known as PLCAA.

It also paves the way for the families to subpoena internal documents on how the gun companies have marketed the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, which has become the weapon of choice for mass shooters.

“The families are grateful that our state’s Supreme Court has rejected the gun industry’s bid for complete immunity, not only from the consequences of their reckless conduct but also from the truth-seeking discovery process,” attorney Josh Koskoff said.

The court ruled that the Sandy Hook families should have the opportunity to prove that Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) by marketing what it knew was a weapon designed for military use to civilians such as Nancy and Adam Lanza.

Adam Lanza was 20 years old on Dec. 14, 2012, when he killed his mother, Nancy, in their Newtown, Conn., home, shot his way into Sandy Hook and went on a killing spree inside two classrooms with a Bushmaster AR-15 Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 first graders before killing himself with a handgun.

The lawsuit was filed in 2015 by nine families of victims, as well as a teacher who was injured in the shooting.

A Superior Court judge in Bridgeport dismissed the lawsuit in 2016 agreeing with attorneys for Remington that the lawsuit “falls squarely within the broad immunity” provided to gun manufacturers and dealers by the arms act. 

The families’ lawyer, Josh Koskoff, appealed the lower court’s dismissal. He asked the high court to return the case to Superior Court in Bridgeport so “the discovery phase of this case can begin and we can start uncovering documents on how this military weapon ended up in civilian hands.”

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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