Court rules Remington can be sued related to Sandy Hook shooting

Sergio Conner
March 15, 2019

The Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that gunmaker Remington Outdoor Co. can be sued over the marketing of the semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that left 20 children and six teachers dead.

It also concluded that CUPTA lawsuits are not barred by a federal law that generally protects gun suppliers from civil liability for crimes committed with their products. Gun rights supporters bashed the decision as judicial activism and overreach.

With the decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the lower court's dismissal and allowed one key aspect of the suit to proceed. The majority said that while most of the lawsuit's claims were barred by the federal law, Remington could still be sued for alleged wrongful marketing under CT law.

"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.

Several lawsuits over mass shootings in other states have been rejected because of the federal law.

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

The Connecticut Supreme Court today ruled in favor of ten Sandy Hook families in their groundbreaking lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the AR-15 used in the 2012 Newtown shooting.

A spokesman for the Madison, North Carolina, company says it would not be commenting on Thursday's ruling and there is no timetable for a public response.

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Remington has invoked the 2005 law in arguing that the case should be dismissed.

Twenty first-grade children and 6 adults were killed and two others wounded in the attack on December 14, 2012. He then killed himself.

"The number of lives lost in those 264 seconds was made possible by the shooter's weapon of choice", the plaintiffs said in their lawsuit. "We wanted our day in court".

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry's trade association, agreed with the dissenters, saying the ruling was "at odds with all other state and federal appellate courts that have interpreted the scope of the exception". Rather than reverse Judge Bellis' ruling, Robinson wrote, "I would affirm the judgment of the trial court in its entirety". A massive victory for gun safety advocates.

"It's a wow moment in American legal history", he said.

The legal theory that the court rejected, which aimed to take advantage of another exception to the PLCAA's protection, was potentially much more threatening to the gun industry.

"Remington may never have known" the shooter, the families' attorney, Joshua Koskoff said, "but they had been courting him for years".

The plaintiffs alleged that Remington promoted the Bushmaster AR-15 style rifle for use against "perceived enemies", an argument a majority of the judges said deserved further scrutiny.

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