Conn. Judge Won’t Dismiss Sandy Hook Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturers

(The Washington Post) -

A judge in Connecticut on Thursday rejected a request from gun manufacturers and sellers to dismiss a lawsuit filed by relatives of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, saying the lawsuit could go forward.

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara N. Bellis wrote that she could not grant the request to dismiss the suit based on a federal shield law that protects gun makers and sellers.

Bellis said she was responding to questions of whether the court had jurisdiction to consider the claim. She noted that she would “confine [her] analysis” to this specific issue, adding that she was not considering other questions about “the legal sufficiency of the allegations in the complaint.”

The lawsuit, which in part comes from the estates of nine of the 26 people killed in the massacre, is an attempt to hold gun manufacturers and sellers accountable.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys argue in their filings that the companies are selling weapons used by the military and law enforcement to civilians “unfit to operate these weapons,” which, in turn, “enables an individual in possession of the weapon to inflict unparalleled civilian carnage.”

In urging the court to dismiss the complaint, manufacturers and sellers said that although the shooting was undeniably tragic, the lawsuit isn’t allowed under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, the shield law passed by Congress in 2005 after numerous lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

Bellis said that given the arguments made by the gun manufacturers and sellers regarding this law, another legal avenue — a motion to strike, rather than dismiss — “would be the proper procedural vehicle.”

She also dismissed an argument that the estates should not be able to bring claims under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, saying the question of whether this act covers the allegations “is not a ground on which the case can be dismissed.”