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Supreme Court Won’t Allow Remington to Challenge Lawsuit by Sandy Hook Families

In 2012, Adam Lanza killed 26 children and adults in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Two years later, the victims’ families sued Remington Arms Co., the maker of the assault rifle used in the shooting, under Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. They claim the company is liable for advertising the semiautomatic rifle in a way that encouraged violence. The ads, according to the plaintiffs in a court brief, promoted the military-style combat weapon to civilians for use against “perceived enemies.” Remington allegedly “touted the XM15-E2S as a combat-tested weapon that would bestow the power to ‘perform under pressure’ and ‘single-handedly’ conquer ‘forces of opposition.’”

In March of this year, the Connecticut Supreme Court allowed this type of lawsuit to continue. In the 4-to-3 vote, the court prohibited the families from suing Remington for simply selling the rifle, but it permitted allegations of improper marketing. While the case has not yet gone to trial, plaintiffs are preparing to conduct discovery of Remington. This process could publicize documents containing information about the company’s marketing practices and objectives.

The Gun-Maker’s Challenge

Remington appealed the decision made in March. According to the gun-maker, their AR-15 is commonly used for hunting, self-defense, and competition purposes. The company argued that, if the plaintiffs succeed in holding Remington liable for the Sandy Hook massacre, the lawsuit will “threaten to destroy an industry that makes lawful products whose possession and use the Constitution specifically protects.”

In the appeal, Remington cited the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which states that the gun industry cannot be held responsible for unlawful misuse of its products.

The Supreme Court’s Decision

The Connecticut Supreme Court did not consider Remington’s appeal. While the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act does prevent certain lawsuits against the gun industry, one of its exceptions revokes immunity when companies violate laws surrounding proper marketing practices.

In response to Remington’s warning that this lawsuit will threaten the survival of the industry, the Court explained that Congress “has not clearly manifested an intent to extinguish the traditional authority of our legislature and our courts to protect the people of Connecticut from the pernicious practices alleged in the present case.”

Despite this decision, the plaintiffs may have a difficult time proving Remington’s liability for the Sandy Hook Massacre in court. They will need to demonstrate that the gun-maker’s advertising strategies encouraged Lanza’s violence and/or his choice of weapon. Legal protections for the gun industry are not as clear-cut as many would like, and this trial may set a precedent for all future shootings.

Somera & Silva, LLPhas a history of securing million-dollar settlements for Boca Raton plaintiffs. To better serve your needs, our team is comprised of both lawyers and doctors with extensive skills and experience. If you have suffered at the hands of negligent professionals or manufacturers, we are ready to fight for your right to proper compensation. Schedule your free initial consultationor call our attorneys directly at (561) 221-6802 today.

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