Connecticut Supreme Court justices spent more than 90 minutes Tuesday peppering attorneys for Remington and victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre with questions about the merits of a lawsuit filed by the families seeking to hold the gun manufacturer liable for Adam Lanza’s shooting spree, reports the Hartford Courant. In front of a packed courtroom, the five justices focused their questions on “negligent entrustment,” 100-year-old Connecticut laws and how a case about a slingshot injury in Michigan equates to one of the worst mass shootings in the country’s history. It was difficult to ascertain any pattern in the justices’ questions. At one point, Justice Richard Palmer asked Remington attorney James Vogts what legitimate uses there were for an AR-15 assault rifle, noting that plaintiffs called the weapon used in the Newtown school shooting a “killing machine.” Vogts said it is used for target practice, deer hunting and home security.
Legal experts say the case will come down to how the justices will interpret two possible exceptions allowed under by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA— whether Remington can be held liable for “negligent entrustment” or whether it violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Negligent entrustment is defined as “supplying of a qualified product by a seller for use by another person when the seller knows, or reasonably should know, the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or others.” Plaintiffs’ attorney Josh Koskoff said Remington had been “courting” Lanza for years through its ads. He said, “It wasn’t just that [Remington] marketed the weapon looking for people with characteristics of Adam Lanza but that Adam Lanza heard the message. He idolized the military and wanted to be an Army Ranger and Remington marketed the AR-15 as the weapon used by the Army Rangers.”