Friday, 17 November, 2017

Newtown families seek to hold gun maker accountable in CT court

Attorney Joshua Koskoff who represents a group of families of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting victims speaks during final arguments in Superior Court in Bridgeport Conn. in 2016 Families of victims gunned down at Sandy Hook take gun manufacturer to court
Kenny Thornton | 15 November, 2017, 06:36

The families' argument is based on the legal doctrine of negligent entrustment, in which a product is carelessly sold or given to a person at high risk of using it in a harmful way. It's not American capitalistic business practice as we know it.

In a brief submitted to the Connecticut Supreme Court, attorneys representing 10 Sandy Hook families contend that in order to boost sales, gun manufacturer Remington targeted a "younger demographic" by "linking the AR-15 to macho vigilantism and military-style insurrection".

The company's lawyer, James Vogts, argued otherwise.

Mourners hold signs during a solidarity vigil in Newtown, Conn., in October in memory of victims of Las Vegas' Route 91 Harvest music festival mass killing.

Jimmy Greene kisses his wife Nelba Marquez-Greene while holding a portrait of their slain daughter Ana Marquez-Greene.

But Remington's lawyer argued federal law shields gunmakers from most lawsuits. Plaintiffs say the law does not apply here.

A lower court judge agreed with the gun maker and dismissed the families' lawsuit in 2016.

The lawsuit, brought by the families of nine people who were killed and one teacher who was shot and survived, faces significant legal hurdles. The families' lawsuit alleges that the company should have known that mass shootings might occur as a result of selling such rifles to civilians. "This action falls squarely within the broad immunity provided by PLCAA".

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Lawmakers behind the measure cited a need to foil what they described as predatory and politically driven litigation.

One of those exceptions is "negligent entrustment", which the law defines as when a manufacturer or seller "knowingly" violates state or federal laws in selling a firearm.

When Adam Lanza prepared for his massacre on the morning of December 14, 2012, he put on tactical gear, taped 30-round magazines together and reached for a weapon that Remington should never had made available to him, plaintiffs attorney Josh Koskoff told the panel of judges Tuesday in Hartford.

Lanza (20) used a Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the U.S. military's M-16, to kill 20 schoolchildren between the ages of 6 and 7, as well as six adult staff members, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.

"They marketed the weapon for exactly what it was", Koskoff said in court on Tuesday, adding that Remington even used product placement to get its product in first-person-shooter video games played by Lanza.

The lawsuit argues that because the AR-15 was designed for the United States military as a battlefield weapon to maximise fatalities, gun companies should never have entrusted the rifle to an untrained civilian public.

Reuters reported the families alleged Remington's marketing of the AR-15 as "the ultimate combat weapons system" was to deliberately appeal to young men fascinated by the military.

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