Law & the Courts

Gunmaker Appeals to SCOTUS to Block Sandy Hook Victims’ Lawsuit

A gun enthusiast inspects handguns during the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Dallas, Texas, May 5, 2018. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The gun-maker Remington has asked the Supreme Court to intervene in a wrongful death lawsuit brought in Connecticut by the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.

The appeal comes after a panel of the Connecticut supreme court overturned a lower court last month in ruling that Remington can be sued for the way in which it marketed the Bushmaster AR-15 that was used to kill 26 people at the Newtown school in December 2012.

Justice Richard Palmer, writing for the 43 majority, argued that the plaintiffs, which include nine victims’ families and one survivor, should be given the opportunity to demonstrate that Remington violated the law by marketing the AR-15 specifically to young people.

Remington’s attorneys informed the Connecticut high court on Friday that they would appeal to the Supreme Court to intervene in the suit on the grounds that the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act shields gun manufacturers from liability if their products are used in criminal activity.

The Connecticut supreme court “recognized that guidance from the Supreme Court is needed by acknowledging that congressional intent to protect firearm manufacturers from litigation is not clear, and it is ‘possible that Congress intended to broadly immunize firearm sellers from liability’ for the conduct that Plaintiffs have alleged,” Remington’s lawyers, Scott Harrington and James Vogts, wrote in a motion filed Friday.

“If proceedings are not stayed and Remington is required to undergo the costly and time-consuming burdens of litigation, including further discovery, motion practice and possibly trial, it will irreparably lose the intended benefit of threshold PLCAA immunity from suit,” they continued.

Remington has until June to file an appeal with the Supreme Court and, if the court agrees to hear the case, it will likely be heard in the next term, which begins in October.


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