Families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre reached a settlement to resolve litigation against—and open up the books of—Remington Arms Company, the now-shuttered manufacturer of the rifle used in the 2012 mass shooting.
Under the terms of the deal, the bankrupt Remington’s insurers agreed to pay the full coverage available: $73 million. The families say that they can also now make thousands of pages of internal company documents public, which they say prove Remington’s wrongdoing.
“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,” Josh Koskoff, the lead counsel who is a partner at Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, wrote in a statement. “This victory should serve as a wake up call not only to the gun industry, but also the insurance and banking companies that prop it up.”
In 2012, Adam Lanza murdered his mother at home before shooting and killing 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School using the AR-15-style rifle known as at the Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S. He then died by suicide. Some two years later, Sandy Hook families filed a lawsuit against its manufacturer Remington, but they struggled to vault a hurdle posed by a statute protecting gun makers: the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, also known as PLCAA.
Koskoff, one of the lawyers behind the families’ legal strategy to pierce that immunity, said that the settlement would send a message.
“For the gun industry, it’s time to stop recklessly marketing all guns to all people for all uses and instead ask how marketing can lower risk rather than court it,” he said. “For the insurance and banking industries, it’s time to recognize the financial cost of underwriting companies that elevate profit by escalating risk. Our hope is that this victory will be the first boulder in the avalanche that forces that change.”
Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in the shooting, also said she hoped the settlement would change the industry.
“My beautiful butterfly, Dylan, is gone because Remington prioritized its profit over my son’s safety,” Hockley wrote in a statement. “Marketing weapons of war directly to young people known to have a strong fascination with firearms is reckless and, as too many families know, deadly conduct. Using marketing to convey that a person is more powerful or more masculine by using a particular type or brand of firearm is deeply irresponsible.”
The settlement follows more than half a decade of bitterly contested litigation. A judge initially dismissed the families’ complaint in 2016, but their lawsuit was revived on appeal, leading to a closely watched Supreme Court battle.
The high court declined to block the litigation in 2019. The ruling showed the limitations of PLCAA’s scope.
This is a developing story.
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Matt Naham contributed to this report.
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