The Guardian is reporting that families of the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are planning to sue Remington Outdoor Company – the makers of the Bushmaster Rifle used in the shootings.
According to the Guardian, the families have the powerhouse Connecticut firm of Koskoff, Koskoff, and Bieder.
From time to time, the possibility of litigation arising from the Sandy Hook shootings has been discussed in the Connecticut plaintiff’s bar. Most everyone, that I’ve read or heard, thought such an action was a long shot. Gun manufacturers have significant immunity from suit.
Perhaps the worst part of the arms act is that it creates a disincentive for gun companies to incorporate safety mechanisms that are available to prevent guns from being used by any one other than the permit holder. Everyone agrees that there is a rampant problem with guns falling into the hands of people other than the permit holder……
Just as car lovers continue to love cars despite air bags and seat belts, gun lovers will continue to love guns with this technology. Unfortunately, the gun industry sees no financial reason to incorporate these safety devices, given the law’s unique protection. They believe themselves largely immune from product liability lawsuits, unlike car manufacturers. So why would they invest in safety features that would make their products marginally more expensive and possibly affect sales?
We should not forget, however, that there is no “safe” gun when it is in the wrong hands. The technology exists to prevent the use of guns by other than the authorized user, but gun manufacturers have not applied it. Manufacturers should answer for this inherent flaw and litigants and the legal community need to continually test the limits of the 2005 arms act until it is repealed.
Don’t be surprised if Koskoff tries to test the theory that gun manufacturers aren’t using existing technology to implement safety measures that prevent guns from being used by unauthorized users.
In my opinion, given the existing immunity afforded to gun manufacturers, I believe this suit has little chance of success. Though it is impossible to weigh the relative merits of a case that hasn’t been filed. The initial pleadings (not referenced in the Guardian Article) will show what legal theories are being pursued.
Koskoff, Koskoff, and Bieder is a firm with lots of talent and resources. They have obtained some of the highest verdicts (possibly the highest) in State history. They have a history of picking fights against long odds and winning. The fact that Koskoff is bringing this case intrigues me. They are outstanding lawyers and I can’t imagine them taking on this fight if they didn’t believe there’s a chance they’ll win.
The suit is likely to be brought in Federal Court in Connecticut under the theory of diversity jurisdiction. In the event it is filed in State Court, I would expect the gun manufacturers to remove it to federal court.
From their, the defendants will use every motion possible to obtain judgment before the case gets to a jury – motions to strike, motions to dismiss, and motions for summary judgment. There will certainly be appeals.
This has the potential to be one of the most significant cases in Connecticut history.