Two insurance companies for Remington Arms the firearm company going through bankruptcy offered millions to settle a lawsuit filed by nine families affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shootings.
“The plaintiffs, the Sandy Hook families, have to make a decision now and that is whether to accept the offer and drop the case against Remington or to keep the case going,” Quinnipiac University Law Professor William Dunlap says.
Dunlap is talking about the $33 million settlement offered to the nine families. It’s the first settlement offer in this case that was filed seven years ago.
“And their incentive to keep the case going is actually quite strong because they have been saying from the very beginning that the primary purpose of this lawsuit was to get information from Remington about the way they and by implication other gun manufacturers market their guns,” Dunlap says.
Josh Koskoff, the attorney representing the families would not go on camera, but released a statement on their behalf saying in part: "Since this case was filed in 2014, the families' focus has been on preventing the next Sandy Hook. An important part of that goal has been showing banks and insurers that companies that sell assault weapons to civilians are fraught with financial risk.”
Five years ago the Connecticut Supreme Court decided to allow the families to pursue their case against Remington Arms based on the marketing of the AR-15 style firearm used by the shooter.
Remington argued that it was immune from the lawsuit because of the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
“There are serious questions about whether the language of the Connecticut law permits this kind of lawsuit, but the state Supreme Court decided it did,” Dunlap says.
Dunlap says even if the families succeed at the state level there are questions about whether a federal law that protects gun manufacturers from negligence would prevent the lawsuit from going forward.
“Even if this lawsuit continues to go forward and eventually gets the discovery the plaintiffs are seeking and eventually gets an adjudicated award, it could still be blocked by federal law,” Dunlap says.
If the families decide to accept the settlement their attorneys would no longer be able to seek information on the marketing of the firearms.