The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday “cleared the way” for families of nine victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 to sue Remington Arms Company, owner of Bushmaster, which manufactured the AR-15 rifle used by killer Adam Lanza to murder 26 people, most of them children.
Remington had sought review by the high court, but the court declined, allowing the case to go forward in Connecticut, but it could wind up back in federal court due to the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
Plaintiffs in the case have argued that Bushmaster “negligently entrusted to civilian consumers an assault rifle that is suitable for use only by military and law enforcement personnel and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) through the sale or wrongful marketing of the rifle,” according to ABC News.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Josh Koskoff of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, asserted that the Sandy Hook families have always wanted “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.”
But Fox News is reporting that the high court’s order allowing the lawsuit to move forward in Connecticut “does not mean Remington or other gun manufacturers will face any immediate liability, but it does set the stage for potential court battles over whether or not the gun industry is responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre and potentially open the door to other suits in relation to other mass shootings or murders.”
Lanza did not actually purchase the firearms used in the tragic shooting. The guns were purchased legally by his mother, Nancy Lanza, whom he murdered prior to taking her guns to the school, as noted by the New York Times in December 2012, while covering the shooting.
Fox News quoted Remington’s argument in its petition to the high court to hear the case: “The decision will have immediate and severe consequences, exposing the firearms industry to costly and burdensome litigation.”
Timothy D. Lytton, a professor at the Georgia State University College of Law, was also quoted by Fox predicting the decision will “unleash a flood of lawsuits across the country.”
Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, which litigates against gun control laws, observed, “While the high court chose not to hear the case at this time, I am sure that if a final verdict goes against Remington it will be back before them.”
“This suit is just plain wrong and should never have been allowed to proceed,” Gottlieb added.
According to CNBC, there is an exception to the PLCAA to allow legal actions “in cases where the gun manufacturer knowingly violated the law through its marketing practices, paved the way for the families to launch their suit.”
Plaintiffs contend Remington “marketed the weapon ‘as a highly lethal weapon designed for purposes that are illegal — namely, killing other human beings,’” CNBC reported.
The argument is that the firearm was marketed in a way that “inspired Adam Lanza to commit the massacre.”
But this seems to ignore the fact that his mother was the buyer, one Washington state retailer noted Tuesday on social media.