Sandy Hook Families Receive $73 Million in Historic SettlementRequest Free Consultation
The recent settlement between Remington, the well-known gun manufacturer, and the families of Sandy hook victims was a historic move in terms of litigation against companies who produce firearms. The families of the victims accepted a $73 million dollar settlement from four insurance companies on behalf of Remington, but how did this ending come to be?
The first action taken against Remington happened in 2015, when a trial court in Connecticut found that the claims against Remington and their unlawful advertisements were baseless. However, the case was appealed again and again, with the case moving back and forth the Connecticut court system. In 2019, Remington appealed to have the case brought to the United States Supreme Court, but the court denied the appeal. Most recently the case was on the docket for the Connecticut Supreme Court again, but this settlement was accepted prior to the court date.
Suing gun manufacturers due to mass shootings is nearly impossible following the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This act essentially states that gun manufacturers cannot be held liable for the crimes committed with their products. Passed during a time when firearms companies were being sued constantly because of mass shootings, this act aimed to give some immunity to the manufacturers. The PLCAA has been extremely effective in protecting gun manufacturers from lawsuits, so how were the Sandy Hook victims able to bring a case against Remington?
The Sandy Hook attorneys took a different angle to this lawsuit than other victims had taken in the past. They claimed that the advertisements used by Remington, and their subsidiary Bushmaster, violated Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. They claimed that the advertisements and product placement used by the firearm manufacturer targeted vulnerable men and prey on their insecurities. The most notable example being an advertisement featuring the Bushmaster XM15-E2S, the exact weapon used in the Sandy Hook massacre, which had a tagline
“Consider Your Man Card Reissued”. Furthermore, the plaintiffs claimed that these types of advertisements promoted illegal behavior because of the guns being placed in violent video games and promoting these guns as military-grade weapons.
However, the defense argued these claims were irrelevant as related to the Sandy Hook massacre. They argued there is no way to prove that the shooter at Sandy Hook ever viewed these ads. Even if he did see them, whether they influenced his decision to commit heinous acts at an elementary school could not be determined. Additionally, the defense found it important to note that the shooter himself did not buy this automatic weapon, his mother had purchased it and he stole it from her. For such reasons, many found the $73 million settlement from Remington to be surprising, especially after the Sandy Hook families denied a $33 million settlement in the summer of 2021.
As of February 18th, 2022 there has been no public comment made by Remington or any of their representatives in regard to this settlement. However, the families of Sandy Hook victims are generally relieved to have this case be settled and are optimistic for what this case means for the future of lawsuits against gun manufacturers. “Our legal system has given us some justice today. But David and I will never have true justice. True justice would be our 15-year-old healthy and standing next to us right now,” says Francine Wheeler, mother of Benjamin who was 6 when he was killed in the Sandy Hook Massacre.
While this decision was historic in suing gun manufacturers post PLCAA, it is difficult to determine what this means for the future. Will more victims and families bring forth suits to gun manufacturers? Or is this case simply a one-off?
Informal Works Consulted:
Formal Works Consulted:
Chappell, B. (2019, November 12). Supreme Court allows Sandy Hook Families’ case against Remington Arms to proceed. NPR. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2019/11/12/778487920/supreme-court-allows-sandy-hook-families-case-against-remington-to-proceed
Collins, D. (2022, February 16). Sandy Hook families settle for $73m with gun maker Remington. AP NEWS. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://apnews.com/article/sandy-hook-school-shooting-remington-settlement-e53b95d398ee9b838afc06275a4df403
Graziano, F., & Wamsley, L. (2022, February 15). Families of Sandy Hook victims reach $73 million settlement with Remington. NPR. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2022/02/15/1080819088/sandy-hook-victims-families-settlement-remington
Rojas, R., Zraick, K., & Closson, T. (2022, February 15). Sandy Hook families settle with gunmaker for $73 million over massacre. The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/nyregion/sandy-hook-families-settlement.html
S.397 – 109th Congress (2005-2006): Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. (2005, October 26). https://www.congress.gov/bill/109th-congress/senate-bill/397