Supreme Court Allows Sandy Hook Families’ Case Against Remington Arms To Proceed

With Tuesday’s order from the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys for the plaintiffs will be able to test whether a gun company can be held liable for how it markets a firearm that is later used in a crime. READ MORE


SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell, et al.

The Supreme Court has denied Remington Arms Co.’s bid to block a lawsuit filed by families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The families say that Remington should be held liable. Remington manufactured the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle that Adam Lanza used in the shooting.

In a decision that was announced Tuesday morning, the court opted not to hear the gun-maker’s appeal. The justices did not include any comment about the case, Remington Arms Co. v. Soto, as they turned it away.

Remington had appealed to the highest federal court after the Connecticut Supreme Court allowed the Sandy Hook lawsuit to proceed in March. In recent court filings, Remington says the case “presents a nationally important question” about U.S. gun laws — namely, how to interpret the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which grants broad immunity to gun-makers and dealers from prosecution over crimes committed with their products.

The families first filed their lawsuit in December 2014, saying the Bushmaster rifle never should have been sold to the public because it is a military-style weapon. They accuse Remington of violating Connecticut’s unfair trade practices law when it “knowingly marketed and promoted the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle for use in assaults against human beings.”

While the suit initially centered on a claim of negligent entrustment — or providing a gun to someone who plans to commit a crime with it — the case now hinges on how Remington marketed the gun.

The 2005 federal law that shields gun companies from liability has several exceptions — including one allowing lawsuits against a gun-maker or seller that knowingly violates state or federal laws governing how a product is sold or marketed.

In the case’s first major test, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that Remington cannot be held liable for simply selling its AR-style Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle. However, they also ruled that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act includes an exception that allows the lawsuit to be brought against the company’s marketing practices.

“Congress did not intend to immunize firearms suppliers who engage in truly unethical and irresponsible marketing practices promoting criminal conduct,” the court said. “It falls to a jury to decide whether the promotional schemes alleged in the present case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet.”

At trial, Sandy Hook families cited examples of what they believe are “unethical, oppressive, immoral, and unscrupulous” advertisements that extol the “the militaristic and assaultive qualities of the rifle.” Furthermore, they argued, the Sandy Hook shooter was “especially susceptible to militaristic marketing” due to his aspirations of being in the military.

In filings with the U.S. Supreme Court, the Sandy Hook families say Remington “published promotional materials that promised ‘military-proven performance’ for a ‘mission-adaptable’ shooter in need of the ‘ultimate combat weapons system.’ ” They also accuse the company of fostering a “lone gunman” narrative as it promoted the Bushmaster, citing an ad that proclaimed, “Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered.”

Another source cited comments from Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. Gottlieb: “This suit is just plain wrong and should never have been allowed to proceed.” Gottlieb called that rationale “absurd” at the time.

“Did the advertising even remotely suggest that the Bushmaster is best for murdering people?” Gottlieb asked. “That’s a stretch of credulity worthy of surgical elastic. There is no evidence the killer was driven by any advertising whatsoever. This is an affront to the First Amendment as well as the Second. Even hinting that the killer was motivated in some way by an advertising message is so far out in the weeds that it may take a map for the court to find its way back.”

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up Remington’s appeal, the case will return to a lower court in Connecticut.


29 thoughts on “Supreme Court Allows Sandy Hook Families’ Case Against Remington Arms To Proceed”

  1. A bit interesting – they are suing Rem not over having made it and sold, but having MARKETED it as a weapon designed to do just what happened.

    Don’t get me wrong, think it is still bullcrap, but it is an interesting end around on the Protection Act, and a very important point to include in articles on the topic.

    1. So the same could be done about vehicles and baseball bats. O and knives and saws and hammers. Wow that’s will bog down the courts.

      1. And every liquor manufacturer for deaths by drunk drivers ? Bet it’s the same lawyers that did in RJ Reynolds tobacco co. Same concept targeted ads that encourage smoking.

  2. Let us hope that when this goes to trial that the 12 people will send a message to these greedy people and their lawyers. Remington is not responsible. The kids mother was the problem and you can’t sue the dead, so let’s go after the money, Remington. It’s all about the money. Remember, all the SC judges were lawyers at one time.

  3. Remington did not pull the trigger. Do we blame the automobile manufacturers for car accidents?I know let’s blame them for us getting a speeding ticket the car is capable of going over the speed limit. Do we blame the spoon for a person being over weight?

  4. I have yet to see a Remington Ad that said it manufactured their guns so mentally ill drugged-out of their head MORONS could go out and shoot people.
    If this INSANITY is allowed to stand, it will open up a can of worms, and make lawyers rich when everyone comes out of the woodwork suing for use of baseball bats, cars, knives, forks, sharp sticks etc. because they were used a a “weapon”. The last time I checked inanimate objects (tools) cannot wield themselves ..TRY holding the HUMAN responsible. If someone makes a product, they should NOT be responsible for how some disgruntled HUMAN with bad intentions uses it.

  5. As absurd as precedents are established in today’s judiciary circuits, with as much weight as they bear weighing against other cases, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and all other other manufacturers who advertise powerful engines and speed, just for starters, had better hope this is thrown back into the political gutter from whence it came. If established, this could affect litigation against free enterprise and manufacturing for decades to come.

  6. How about the manufacturer of the “gun free zone” sign and the law makers who create these “gun free zones” be held responsible. Only people who follow said signs and laws are the law abiding. CRIMINALS, whachos, crazies, etc, don’t give two sh!ts about any laws or signs.

  7. What is interesting with the lawsuit is the implication that the perpetrator made a purchase based upon the marketing none of which occurred. In fact the perp killed the owner to acquire the firearm.

  8. The point is that the plaintiff maintains the advertising was directed at Adam Lanza. The problem is that his mother purchased the rifle not him. We cannot ask her if the advertising had an influence on her purchase as she was the first one Lanza murdered before heading to Sandy Hook.

    1. That’s is the most important aspect of this case, and it is lost in the smoke and mirrors of the circus.

  9. Anyone want to buy my bushmaster? I really don’t like that is is a commercial spec firearm, and not mil-spec. I need mil-spec so its more better and more deadlier. Plech!!
    I don’t like it at all, but marketing like what Rem did, Kel-Tec (for example) is doing similar right now, is probably not smart for the long game here. Either way, it sucks. SCOTUS is glaringly not even commenting.

    1. So is Chevy going to have to dump the Corvette because their marketing implies speed? Caving into this crap is what is not smart in the long game.

  10. The auto industries better jump up to back Remington’s position on that one. If the case goes south for Remington they are next.

    Just think of all the people who have been harmed or killed by someone driving over the speed limit.

    Every car manufacturer has an advertisement showing their car weaving in/out of traffic or speeding down the highway.

  11. The auto industries better jump up to back Remington’s position on that one. If the case goes south for Remington they are next.

    Just think of all the people who have been harmed or killed by someone driving over the speed limit.

    Every car manufacturer has an advertisement showing their car weaving in/out of traffic or speeding down the highway.

  12. This is completely out there. For one thing that is not a military style weapon. It is designed for civilian use and I can name many more rifles which are more suited to kill anything! Once this is allowed to continue the courts will be very busy with cases against car manufacturers, knife manufacturers, hammer manufacturers and let us not forget anything else that will take a human life. This is one of the dumbest and illogical decisions made by the court system. Right up there with the case of the McDonald’s hot coffee.

  13. So the NUT CASE KID that first MURDERED HIS OWN MOTHER and then SHOT UP A BUNCH OF GRADE SCHOOL KIDS IS A VICTIM OF REMINGTON’S PUBLISHING DEPARTMENT? I KNOW the left leaning communist, socialist demoncrapic lot has preached “it’s not your fault, you weren’t raised right, you’re a victim of society and capitalism etc” for the past 50 years so it doesn’t surprise me too much. Still, the instruction book I read, ( the BIBLE) clearly says we are all accountable for our words, deeds and even thoughts. All of this is to say the parents who lost their children are barking up the wrong tree. I know what it is to loose a child, I lost one but the gun did not kill, the bullets did not kill. Guns and bullets are just tools, they do nothing on their own. It is the person who pulled the trigger that is at fault. The ambulance chasing lawyers, judges, legislators, enforcement people and the parents whom they are using/abusing, along with those in federal congress who are using this case to disarm the American citizen should be remembered should the second war for freedom and independence happen. You can’t legislate morality. Kruchev said he would destroy the U.S. during his speech at the U.N. back in the 60’s. He saw to it that GOD was taken out of class rooms, court houses and even in congress. Here we are sixty years later reaping that harvest. You did not see mass shootings back then although they had access to actual assault weapons and other weapons of war. So what changed? How many laws did this kid break that day? Murdered his mother, stole her rifle, loaded up a high capacity magazine, brought a weapon to a “gun free zone” broke into the school and shot up dozens of children and staff. The point is he did not care about the laws he was breaking. Laws and locks are for honest, righteous people. There are laws that enslave men and there are laws that set men free. This case, going after innocent firearm makers, is a travesty of justice. That kid is responsible and no one else.

  14. Connecticut is a truly confused collection of left wingers…. I can’t believe there are gun manufacturers doing business in that state for ANY reason, or any manfacturers for that matter.

  15. I agree with most of the posts, what about Budweiser, Bush, Miller, Chevy, Ford, and the list goes on and on. It will all boil down to how much money the lawyers expect to make off of the case, that will determine how long it takes to play out. If this goes to trial the law suites will be endless and the liberals will get rid of the gun manufacturers, hence, get rid of the guns, game, set, match.

  16. This is how far America has fallen. When stupidity reigns supreme we all loose.
    For the Supreme Court to rule in this way is another nail in our coffin. I’m almost left speechless, this cannot stand! MOLON LABE

  17. What I don’t understand is how Remington, or any other manufacturer can be blamed for “marketing” when the firearm utilized was STOLEN from the the rightful owner prior to being used to shoot up a school. The owner bought the weapon, the thief / murderer was not affected by the marketing, it was just easily available after killing his mother. So unless the lawsuit was brought by his dead mother’s estate, i.e. “He killed and stole it due to marketing tactics”, the case should be thrown out. The killer didn’t purchase anything, and therefore marketing is moot.

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