WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States announced it will not hear an appeal after the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims looking to sue the maker of the rifle used to kill the 26 children and educators back in 2012.
The Connecticut Supreme Court in a recent 4-3 ruling ruled that the lawsuit against Remington Arms could proceed.
The decision overturned a ruling by a Connecticut trial court judge who dismissed the lawsuit based on the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Now, by declining to hear arguments in the case, the US Supreme Court is giving families the go-ahead to sue Remington.
Remington Arms is the maker of the rifle that 20 year old Adam Lanza used to kill 26 children and educators on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
A lawsuit filed in State Court by a survivor and nine victims says the Madison-North Carolina based company should never have sold a weapon as dangerous as the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to the public.
It further says Remington targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games.
The 2005 federal law Remington Arms stands behind is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The act prevents people from bringing most lawsuits against firearms manufacturers when their products are used in crimes.
The Connecticut Supreme Court cited an exemption in that law in their 4-3 ruling that allowed families to sue Remington.
Josh Koskoff, the lawyer for the families, said in a statement after Tuesday’s US Supreme Court announcement:
"The families are grateful that the Supreme Court upheld precedent and denied Remington’s latest attempt to avoid accountability. We are ready to resume discovery and proceed towards trial in order to shed light on Remington’s profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users at the expense of Americans’ safety."
Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal released a statement along with Representative Jahana Hayes saying:
"For years, gun manufacturers have been allowed to operate with near-blanket immunity—producing weapons of war and marketing them to the masses with zero accountability. The critical victory reinforces the need for Congress to pass legislation repealing the gun industry’s sweetheart immunity deal and unlocking the doors to justice for all victims of gun violence."
Governor Lamont also tweeting out his support- saying the Sandy Hook families will have their day in court—a day to make their voices heard and a day to ensure that no other family has to endure the grief they have faced.
The National Rifle Association and the Connecticut Citizens Defense League asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision.
President of the CCDL, Scott Wilson, told FOX61 News in a statement:
"As a friend of the court brief co-filer, we were hopeful that the Supreme Court would listen to arguments for this matter. It is our view that the language in the existing PLCAA statute should have been enough to shield the firearms manufacturer."
The Supreme Court rejecting the case is a crucial step for the Sandy Hook families, but they still have a long legal battle that lies ahead of them in order to get the relief they’re seeking.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act has previously been cited by courts who blocked other victims of high-profile shooting attacks from suing gun-makers and dealers.
FOX61 called Remington Arms asking for their comment but have not yet heard back.