A CT court ruled Thursday that Remington Outdoor Company can be sued over the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according toThe Stamford Advocate. But there are exceptions for violations of state laws, and that's what the CT court will now allow a state court trial to examine.
Attorney Joshua Koskoff, who represents the plaintiffs, told the AP, "The families' goal has always been 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".
They argue the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used by Newtown shooter Adam Lanza is too risky for the public and Remington glorified the weapon in marketing it to young people, including those with mental illness.
Adam Lanza, the gunman, used the Bushmaster gun at the center of this case.
It marks another case involving a 2005 federal law that generally shields gun makers and manufacturers from liability for crimes committed involving their products. The plaintiffs argued that supplying military-style rifles to civilians in itself qualifies as negligent entrustment, a cause of action that involves transferring a "dangerous instrumentality" to someone whom the defendant knows or should know is apt to cause harm with it.
"The majority's decision today is at odds with all other state and federal appellate courts that have interpreted the scope of the exception", the group said in a statement, adding it "respectfully disagrees with and is disappointed by the court's majority decision". It is, of course, possible that Congress meant to broadly immunize firearms sellers from liability for the sort of egregious misconduct that the plaintiffs have alleged but failed to effectively express that intent in the language of PLCAA or during the legislative hearings.
In their original complaint, the families outlined some of the marketing practices allegedly used by Bushmaster.
"A Bushmaster product catalog shows soldiers moving on patrol through jungles, armed with Bushmaster rifles", the lawsuit notes.
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The court, echoing claims by the families, emphasised the lethality of the AR-15 style rifle, saying that it is created to "deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency".
It also paves the way for the families to subpoena internal documents on how the gun companies have marketed the AR-15, which has become the weapon of choice for mass shooters.
The families' lawsuit can now bypass the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which Congress passed in 2005, making it impossible for survivors of gun violence to hold manufacturers accountable for selling weapons to shooters.
"No matter how tragic, no matter how much we wish those children and their teachers were not lost, their families had not suffered, the law needs to be applied dispassionately", Mr Vogts said in court. The Bushmaster was legally made and sold to Nancy Lanza, prior to it being stolen and used in a crime.
Importantly, the decision does not rule on whether Remington engaged in this practice.
In a 4-3 ruling widely expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Connecticut's highest court found the lawsuit could proceed based on a state law protecting consumers against fraudulent marketing. "It falls to a jury to decide whether the promotional schemes alleged in the present case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet", the ruling stated.
The case was watched by gun rights supporters and gun control advocates across the country as one that could affect other cases accusing gun-makers of being responsible for mass shootings.
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