By a 4-3 vote, the Connecticut Supreme Court permitted a lawsuit by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting against Remington Arms Company to proceed, reports the Hartford Courant. The court sent the landmark gun case back to Bridgeport Superior Court and possibly created a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which has protected the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault rifle from lawsuits. The ruling paves the way for the families to subpoena internal documents on how the gun companies have marketed the AR-15, the weapon of choice for mass shooters. The gun manufacturers have closely guarded information on how they market the weapons.
The court ruled that the Sandy Hook families should have the opportunity to prove that Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) by marketing what it knew was a weapon designed for military use to civilians such as Adam Lanza. Lanza used the AR-15 to kill 26 people, including 20 first graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., in 2012. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called the decision “a ‘wow’ moment in American legal history,” adding that, “It breaks open the seemingly impenetrable shield — unjust and unfair — enjoyed uniquely by the arms manufacturers. It holds them responsible, as every other industry is, for injury and death that they cause.” The U.S. Supreme Court likely will have the final say on the issue. James Vogts, an attorney for Remington, said, “Under the law, the manufacturer of the gun used by the criminal that day isn’t responsible legally for his actions.”