Nine families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have reached a settlement against Remington Arms in what the families’ attorney says is a victory that opens the door to future lawsuits against gun makers whose products are used in mass shootings.
Settlement of $73 Million announced Tuesday ended a landmark lawsuit regarding Remington’s marketing tactics for the firearm used in the Newtown massacre, Conn., Dec. 14, 2012. It also saves Remington from the need to disclose any evidence that could be incriminating about their marketing strategies at trial. Six educators and twenty-six children were among the victims of the gunman’s attack on their school.
Josh Koskoff was the lawyer representing the families and he called the result historic. It’s nearly impossible for gun makers to be held responsible for the use of their products in mass shootings due to a federal law that largely shields them from liability.
“These nine families have shared a single goal from the very beginning: to do whatever they could to help prevent the next Sandy Hook. It is hard to imagine an outcome that better accomplishes that goal,” Koskoff said. Remington was willing to settle for $33M, he claimed, but the family rejected it because they wanted proof of wrongdoing. Koskoff says they obtained thousands of internal company documents and conducted multiple depositions of Remington’s leadership and marketing team to do that.
Continue reading: Sandy Hook Shooting: Gun maker sued for school records
Koskoff added that the settlement should be a “wake up call” to the gun industry largely immune to lawsuits under the 2005 law, which has widely deterred families from targeting gun makers in court. A few exceptions apply, including if the defective weapon results in death or serious injury to the victim or if the seller or manufacturer violates a law regarding the sale or marketing of the product.
Remington had argued it was protected under the law, but the families’ suit, filed in 2014, said the federal law did not apply because they were accusing Remington of violating state laws in the marketing of the weapon. The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed Remington’s argument in March 2019. Remington made an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They declined to hear the case.
It was expected that the jury would hear the case. If that had happened, experts say Remington could have been forced to provide documents that could yield damaging internal memos—similar to the way a major civil settlement in 1998 forced the tobacco industry to disclose millions of pages of internal communications that revealed deceptive marketing practices.
An attorney for Remington, the nation’s oldest gun manufacturer, did not immediately comment Tuesday.