North Carolina residents may remember their shock when they learned in December 2012 that a lone gunman had shot and killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The families of the victims and one person who survived the attack have been trying for years to hold the manufacturer of the weapon used in the mass shooting responsible in court for what they consider to be reckless and illegal marketing practices, but they have faced a number of legal challenges including a 2005 federal law that was passed specifically to shield gun makers from his kind of litigation.
The Sandy Hook plaintiffs won a victory in March when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that their lawsuit could go ahead, and they avoided a possible setback in November when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the Remington Arms appeal. On Dec 11., the plaintiffs learned that they would be able to make their arguments in court in September 2021. The announcement came almost seven years after the elementary school killings.
The plaintiffs claim that Remington Arms marketed its Bushmaster AR-15 rifle illegally, but legal observers expect their arguments to face an uphill battle in court. This is because their case challenges the Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act, which was signed into law in 2005 to protect weapons manufacturers from lawsuits filed by crime victims. During the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both criticized the law.
The defendants in cases like this one often seek a negotiated settlement because they know the facts are likely to inflame the jury regardless of the merits of their legal arguments. Attorneys with experience in wrongful death lawsuits may advise their plaintiff clients to accept a settlement proposal as long as the offer provides adequate compensation for their losses.