Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturer by Newtown Families | Connecticut Public Radio
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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturer by Newtown Families

Oct 14, 2016

A Connecticut judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by families of the victims in the Newtown school shooting. They filed a suit against the manufacturer of the rifle used in the massacre.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis granted a motion by Remington Arms to dismiss the lawsuit. She cited the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed by Congress in 2005, which protects gun makers from such lawsuits.

The lawsuit was filed by the families of nine children and adults killed, plus a teacher who survived the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. The rifle used in the attack was an AR-15 made by Remington.

The families' lawyers argued this modified version of a military weapon shouldn't have been marketed and sold for civilian use.

"Now it wasn't meant to be designed to kill innocent civilians, but the weapon doesn't know that," said Josh Koskoff, a lawyer representing the Sandy Hook victims before the judge heard arguments in June. "And so arming civilians with a weapon whose specific use is to kill people — when gun companies know that people kill people — is negligent."

Additionally, the lawyers said the lawsuit was allowed under an exception to the law, but Bellis ultimately disagreed:

Although PLCAA (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) provides a narrow exception under which plaintiffs may maintain an action for negligent entrustment of a firearm, the allegations in the present case do not fit within the common-law tort of negligent entrustment under well-established Connecticut law, nor do they come within PLCAA's definition of negligent entrustment. Furthermore, the plaintiffs cannot avail themselves of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) to bring this action within PLCAA's exception allowing lawsuits for violation of a state statute applicable to the sale or marketing of firearms. A plaintiff under CUTPA must allege some kind of consumer, competitor, or other commercial relationship with a defendant, and the plaintiffs here have alleged no such relationship.

In a statement following the decision, Koskoff said the plaintiffs will appeal. "While the families are obviously disappointed with the judge's decision, this is not the end of the fight," he said.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.