Sandy Hook families file gun case appeal to state Supreme Court

Update: James Vogts, an attorney representing Remington Arms, said Tuesday that his client is not expecting much to come from the Sandy Hook families' appeal.

"Remington expects the Connecticut appellate court to come to the same conclusion as the trial court: [the] plaintiffs’ claims fail under both Connecticut common law and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," Vogts said in an email.

Original story:

The families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre are appealing their lawsuit against gun companies to the state Supreme Court.

Families of nine Sandy Hook victims and one of the survivors asked the Connecticut Supreme Court on Tuesday to hear their appeal a month after their civil suit against Remington Arms Company Bushmaster Firearms, Camfour Holding and Riverview Gun Sales of East Winsdor was tossed out by Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis.

The families’ appeal argues that the state’s highest court should decide whether the sellers of the weapon used in the shooting can be held accountable under state law.

According to a statement, the families’ appeal asks the Supreme Court to consider the scope of the common law of negligent entrustment in Connecticut and its application to circumstances and technology that could not have been contemplated when the cause of action was first recognized.

Families of the victims had brought a civil suit in April 2015 against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the AR-15 rifle used by Adam Lanza on Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children. Victoria Soto, a Stratford native and teacher at Sandy Hook, was one of the victims. Lanza killed himself during the shooting.

In a statement issued Tuesday, attorney Josh Koskoff said that, “We feel strongly that the critical issues raised in this case belong before our state’s Supreme Court and we hope the Court agrees.

“The Supreme Court not only sets precedent but also reviews the applicability and relevance of prior decisions, and works to ensure that the common law is up-to-date with the realities and dangers of a changing world,” Koskoff added.

“[T]he loss of twenty first-graders and six educators would shake any community to its core,” the appeal papers read. “Ours had to grapple with the manner in which those lives were lost.  Children and teachers were gunned down in classrooms and hallways with a weapon that was designed for our armed forces and engineered to deliver maximum carnage.  The assault was so rapid that no police force on earth could have been expected to stop it.”

The families also argue that the language in the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) has to be determined by the state’s highest court. In Bellis’s decision on Oct. 14, she said the plaintiffs’ allegations “do not fit within the common-law tort of negligence entrustment under well established Connecticut law, nor do they come within the PLCAA [Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act]’s definition of negligent entrustment.” Bellis’s ruling also said the plaintiffs “cannot avail themselves of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) to bring this action within PLCAA’s exceptions allowing lawsuits for violation of a state statute applicable to the sale of marketing of firearms.”

The appeal was filed in the state Appellate Court Clerk’s office. It is not immediately clear when the Supreme Court will decide if it will hear the case.

Stay with the Stratford Star and the HAN Network for more information on this story.