Gun Maker Remington to Appeal Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Ruling to Supreme Court

By Andrew G. Simpson | April 10, 2019

Having failed in Connecticut state court to block all claims brought by families of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, gun manufacturer Remington Arms Co. has signaled it will appeal its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The company has asked the Connecticut Supreme Court for a stay of its ruling that it can be sued over the marketing of its Bushmaster AR-15. Remington wants the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if the state court erred in allowing the claim despite a federal law granting immunity to gun manufacturers. One of its Bushmaster rifles was used to kill 26 people at the school in Newtown in 2012.

In March, the Connecticut Supreme Court overruled a lower court in agreeing with the plaintiffs that they have the right to sue Remington over its marketing of the AR-15 notwithstanding the federal law, the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun makers from liability if their products are used in crimes.

The Connecticut court struck several of the plaintiffs’ claims against Remington but found an opening for plaintiffs under the state’s unfair trade practices law for their claim that certain Remington advertisements “illegally” promoted “criminal use” of firearms for “offensive civilian assaults,” and the advertisements were “a direct cause” of the shooting.

The Connecticut court held that the marketing claim falls under an exception in the federal law. The judges said that Connecticut law bars ads that promote violent behavior and it’s not clear that the federal PLCAA law was meant to keep states from protecting its citizens against the types of marketing alleged by the Sandy Hook families.

In a motion filed last Friday, Scott Harrington, Remington’s attorney, wrote that the Connecticut court “implicitly recognized that guidance from the Supreme Court is needed by acknowledging that congressional intent to protect firearm manufacturers from litigation is not clear, and it is “possible that Congress intended to broadly immunize firearm sellers from liability” for the conduct that plaintiffs have alleged.

Remington’s lawyer also said that if the state proceedings are not stayed, Remington will face the costs and burdens of litigation and thus be denied the benefit of immunity intended by the federal law.

The firearms manufacturer has 90 days from the March 14 date of state ruling to file an actual appeal with the Supreme Court.

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