A Connecticut judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Newtown families against the maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, saying federal law shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis on Friday granted a motion by Madison, North Carolina-based Remington Arms to strike the lawsuit by the families of nine children and adults killed and a teacher who survived the 2012 attack. A gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the school with an AR-15-style rifle.
Bellis cited 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.
"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," Josh Koskoff from Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, one of the lawyers representing the families, said of the decision in a statement on Friday.
Gov. Dannel Malloy said the ruling was "deeply disappointing day for the families" and "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," Malloy said in a statement on Friday.
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy as well as Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) released statements on the decision. They cited the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which they said gave "the gun industry immunity from a wide variety of civil suits."
“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," the statement said.
To read the full decision, click here.
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