Judge dismisses lawsuit by families of Newtown victims against Remington Arms

A convention attendee looks at a Remington bolt action rifle at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention  (Photo: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

A convention attendee looks at a Remington bolt action rifle at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention (Photo: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

BRIDGEPORT — A judge officially dismissed a lawsuit against the maker of one of the guns used in the Sandy Hook tragedy on Friday.

The families of nine children and adults killed at the Newtown school and a teacher that survived sued Remington Arms, the parent company of Bushmaster Firearms, maker of the AR-15. They claimed the company knew the rifle was meant for the military and is too dangerous to sell to civilians.

The judge said in his ruling on Friday federal law shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products, agreeing with Remington’s argument.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Friday granted a motion by Madison, North Carolina-based Remington Arms to strike the lawsuit, citing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed by Congress in 2005 that protected gun makers from such lawsuits. The families’ lawyers said their lawsuit was allowed under an exception to the act, but Bellis disagreed.

You can read the full ruling here.

The plaintiffs claimed Remington was just as culpable as the distributor or dealer because it was their choice to entrust America’s “most notorious killing machine to the public, despite its association with mounting mass murders of civilians,” said Josh Koskoff, one of the families’ lawyers.

Koskoff said Friday the families will appeal the decision. “While the families are obviously disappointed with the judge’s decision, this is not the end of the fight. We will appeal this decision immediately and continue our work to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening.”

Gov. Dan Malloy released a statement on Friday:

While today is a deeply disappointing day for the families, their appeal will continue this fight for justice.  As I have stated before, the laws providing unique protections to gun manufacturers need to be changed to give crime victims a right to pursue legal remedies.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, all major gun control proponents, released this statement:

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act denies victims of gun violence their fair day in court. This misapplied and misguided law protects gun manufacturers from liability even for dangerous and irresponsible practices – an unprecedented and indefensible legal shield available to no other American industry. We disagree with today’s decision and will continue our fight to repeal this reprehensible law.

State Police say 20-year old Adam Lanza killed his victims using a model of the AR-15.  According to authorities, his mother Nancy who was also killed by Adam, legally bought the rifle.

The  AR-15’s popularity among gun owners is unquestioned. But, its place in public has not only been tested by the plaintiffs, but by many across the nation. On In June, another major ruling impacted the gun: the Supreme Court ruled that the semi-automatic assault weapons and magazine bans put in place in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook tragedy is in fact constitutional.

In May, the judge granted attorneys for the Sandy Hook families access to internal documents from Remington, whose marketing practices have been called into question my the plaintiffs’ legal team.

Back in June, lawyers for Remington Arms argued the lawsuit should be thrown out because of a 2005 federal law that protects gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products. This lawsuit appears to have been the first of its kind against a gun manufacturer to claim an exception, and that claim did not end up holding up.

In July, the judge asked both sides to meet privately to discuss disagreements over documents that the families wanted to be brought into the public view.

With reporting by the Associated Press.