Sandy Hook gun manufacturer lawsuit to proceed
The Connecticut Supreme Court bypassed a lower court ruling and will hear an appeal from nine families and one survivor affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. They claim the gun manufacturers and distributors are liable for the school shooting.
“We are grateful that the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear our case immediately,” Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in the shooting, said in a statement, according to Newsweek.
“Our goal is and always has been to help prevent the next Sandy Hook, and today is an important step in that direction.”
The 10 plaintiffs are attempting to hold gun manufacturers and distributors Remington Arms Company and Bushmaster Firearms liable for the sale of the military-style rifle used in the mass shooting and which violated Connecticut law.
The suit, which they filed two years after the massacre, argued that three gun companies negligently entrusted the rifle to the public, and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act in marketing it to civilians.
The court agreed that the meaning of certain language in the state law must be determined by the high court.
Tuesday’s decision came two weeks after nine families and a survivor filed an appeal against a judge’s dismissal of the case.
The lower court case was thrown out because the judge ruled that federal law prevented most liability suits brought by gun violence victims and their families.
“We believe strongly in the legitimacy of our claims. They are well founded. We are asking for the Supreme Court to take a fresh look at this case. All the families have ever asked for is their day in court,” Joshua Koskoff, one of the attorneys representing the families, told reporters on Thursday, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune.
On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 children and six educators in just five minutes, using a Bushmaster XM15-E25 semi-automatic assault rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
The assault rifle was owned by his mother, Nancy Lanza, who he murdered earlier that day using a separate weapon.
“A weapon that was designed to be used in combat and to kill enemies in a war… was lying not on a battlefield but on the floor of Vicki Soto’s classroom,” Koskoff told CNN in June. “How did it get there?” Soto, a teacher, was one of the victims.
Gun manufacturers typically cannot be sued when their products are used to commit a crime. The federal 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act grants gun manufacturers immunity from any lawsuit related to injuries from criminal misuse of their products.
The 10 plaintiffs in their class action lawsuit argue, however, that assault rifle guns serve no legitimate purpose in civilian hands, and therefore the gun maker shares culpability for the Sandy Hook killings.
The suit also argues that Bushmaster’s manufacturer intentionally uses military language in its marketing to appeal to people eager to acquire a weapon capable of mass murder.
The legal team representing Bushmaster, Remington, and other companies associated with the distribution and sale of the weapon argue they are not responsible for Lanza’s crime because they did not directly give him the weapon.