Parents of some of the victims of the 2012 school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, will on Monday announce they are suing Bushmaster, the manufacturer of the gun used by Adam Lanza.
They are working with an attorney who represented Michael Jackson’s family in a $1.5bn wrongful death lawsuit against his international concert promoter, and a Democratic lobbyist who worked in the Clinton administration and specialises in taking on major corporations, the Guardian has learned.
Parents of at least 13 of the 20 young children killed in the December 2012 shooting have in the past two weeks opened estates in their names at the regional probate court, a necessary first step in filing a lawsuit over their deaths. Eleven of these sets of parents checked a box specifying that they intended to make a wrongful death claim.
Sunday 14 December, the second anniversary of the killings, also marks the legal deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit over the incident in the civil courts. The Hartford Courant reported earlier this week that parents were discussing a legal action against Bushmaster, the North Carolina-based manufacturer of the AR-15 rifle that was used by Lanza.
Asked whether notice of a lawsuit had been received, an employee in the legal department of Remington Outdoor Company, Bushmaster’s parent firm, referred the enquiry to the company’s public affairs director, who then did not respond to numerous emails, phone calls and voicemails this week seeking comment.
The Guardian has confirmed that action is to be announced on Monday involving Michael Koskoff, a partner in the Connecticut law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, who three years ago represented the Jackson family in their unsuccessful lawsuit against AEG Live, the promoter of a planned tour for which Jackson was rehearsing when he died in 2009.
Joining his firm in promoting the action is Karen Hinton, a lobbyist and PR expert who once worked for the Democratic National Committee and is a close ally of Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, who described her as “my public relations guru” in his 2003 book Crossroads: the Future of American Politics.
Hinton worked for Cuomo when he was housing secretary to then-president Bill Clinton in the 1990s and is married to Howard Glaser, who was until earlier this year one of Cuomo’s most senior aides.
“We are not going to be speaking about that until Monday,” Hinton said of Sandy Hook, declining to confirm what the parents’ plans were.
Hinton, who states in her Twitter biography that she is “taking on big oil, big banks & other big bullies”, has represented clients including Ecuadorean villagers in a long-running multi-billion dollar legal battle with Chevron, the energy corporation, over pollution of the Amazon rainforest.
According to records reviewed by the Guardian at Fairfield county probate court, estates were opened with notifications of wrongful death claims this month for Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Dylan Hockley, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner and Jessica Rekos. Estates were also opened for Avielle Richman and Benjamin Wheeler, but the box signifying a wrongful death claim was not checked.
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