Sandy Hook Suit Against Remington Dismissed by Judge

Sandy Hook Suit Against Remington Dismissed by Judge
A Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, at the center of the lawsuit.mfg photo

In a landmark decision, a state judge has dismissed the lawsuit against Remington Arms filed by families of victims of the 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

According to this story from guns.com, Judge Barbara Bellis cited the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in her dismissal of the nine plaintiffs' negligent entrustment argument as well as various other requirements which the suit didn't meet.

The lawsuit alleged, among other things, that Remington, under its Bushmaster brand, manufactured and sold the XM15-E2S to the shooter’s mother, knowing it was designed for military use. The suit also says the company knew “civilians are unfit to operate AR-15s, and yet continue selling the Bushmaster XM15-E2S to the civilian market, disregarding the unreasonable risks that the weapon poses ‘outside of specialized, highly regulated institutions like the armed forces and law enforcement.’”

“In the present case, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs seek wrongful death and personal injury damages allegedly resulting from product design. ’To prevail on a design defect claim a plaintiff must prove that the product is unreasonably dangerous…Unreasonably dangerous is defined under Connecticut law using the consumer expectation standard, which provides that the article sold must be dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated by the ordinary consumer who purchases it, with the ordinary knowledge common to the community as to its characteristics.’

"The plaintiffs are not claiming that the defendants are liable because the firearm is unreasonably dangerous and state “indeed, it is an ideally dangerous product for a large consumer base (that is military and law enforcement).’”

“The defense also argue that the plaintiffs seek wrongful death and personal injury damages allegedly resulting from wrongful marketing. As stated above, defective marketing is synonymous with inadequate warnings or instructions,” Bellis writes. “Again, the plaintiffs have not alleged liability based on a product defect. Furthermore, the plaintiffs have not alleged any facts regarding the defendants providing, or failing to provide, warnings or instructions.”

Finally, in her conclusion, Bellis writes: “Congress, through the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), has broadly prohibited lawsuits ‘against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms…for the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearms products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.’

"The present case seeks damages for harms, including the deaths of the plaintiffs’ defendants, that were caused solely by the criminal misuse of a weapon by Adam Lanza. Accordingly, this action falls squarely within the broad immunity provided by the PLCAA.”

PLCAA was signed into law in 2005 by President George W. Bush. Firearms manufacturers are still open to litigation under circumstances such as negligence, according to the law.

The suit was filed by the nine families on the two-year anniversary of the 2012 shooting.