Connecticut Supreme Court hears arguments in Sandy Hook lawsuit
Connecticut Supreme Court hears arguments in Sandy Hook lawsuit
Image Courtesy of Claire Anderson
15 November, 2017, 01:04
Family of victims in the Sandy Hook school shooting appealed to Connecticut's highest court Tuesday to reinstate their previously-dismissed lawsuit against the manufacturer of the AR-15 assault weapon used in the attack.
A lower court had sided with the defense, but the state Supreme Court agreed to review the case to decide if it can go before a jury.
Lanza (20) used a Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the USA military's M-16, to kill 20 schoolchildren between the ages of 6 and 7, as well as six adult staff members, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.
The plaintiffs said the law does not protect Remington because it marketed the rifle "not for sport or for target shooting or self-defense" but "for exactly what it was", Koskoff said.
The families are advancing a somewhat novel legal argument in hopes of overcoming a federal law enacted by US Congress in 2005 to shield gun manufacturers from liability for how their products are used.
"What happened in the school that morning was horrific", Vogts said.
"No matter how tragic, no matter how much we wish those children and their teachers were not lost, and their families had not suffered, the law needs to be applied dispassionately", says James Vogts, attorney for Remington Arms.
"Nothing will ever bring back my son, Dylan, or the other lives stolen from us on that terrible day", Nicole Hockley said previous year when the appeal was filed.
The packed courtroom in Hartford, Connecticut, included numerous victims' family members.
Ian Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in his first grade classroom, told reporters outside the courthouse that in the military a weapon of this type is subject to strict rules.
In a 54-page written ruling on the widely watched case, Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis made it clear the families' claims that the gun company should be held liable for Adam Lanza's actions did not meet the narrow exceptions the federal law allows. "He idolized the military and Remington advertised the AR-15 as the weapon used by Army Rangers".
One exception allows lawsuits alleging "negligent entrustment": when companies know, or should know, that their weapons are likely to be used in a way that risks injury to others.
The argument has historically been used where someone lends a auto to a high-risk driver who goes on to cause an accident. "We want to see the focus groups", plaintiffs' attorney Josh Koskoff said after the hearing. "The manufacturer and the sellers of the firearm used that day are not legally responsible for his crimes and harms that he caused".
"What we have here is the conduct of a corporation that thought it was above the law and still thinks its above the law", said lawyer Joshua Koskoff.
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