The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on March 14 that families of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting victims could proceed with a lawsuit against the companies that manufactured and sold the semiautomatic rifle used in the attack.
The ruling, which reversed a lower court’s decision, has the potential to unleash a flood of claims by gun violence victims against gun manufacturers – if it’s upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, that is.
My research on the history of lawsuits against the gun industry has documented the failure of gun violence victims to hold gun manufacturers liable for legal marketing practices that many people consider irresponsible. The latest Sandy Hook decision could pave the way for gunmakers to finally be held responsible for them.
A 2006 law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act grants gun manufacturers immunity from lawsuits that arise out of the criminal misuse of a weapon.
The Sandy Hook families argued that their lawsuit fell under an exception to this federal immunity. The exception allows gun violence victims to sue a manufacturer who “knowingly violated a state or federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing” of a firearm.
The families claimed that Remington Arms “marketed, advertised and promoted the Bushmaster XM15-E2S for civilians to use to carry out offensive, military style combat missions against their perceived enemies.” They said that this marketing constituted an unfair trade practice under Connecticut law, which they argued is a state statute “applicable” to the marketing of a firearm.
The Connecticut high court agreed and, importantly, interpreted the term “applicable” broadly. That is, the court said that a relevant statute only had to be “capable of being applied” to gun sales, not that the law needed be specifically about firearms, as other courts had held.
It is this interpretation that could potentially unleash a flood of lawsuits across the country.
Since many states have unfair trade practices laws like Connecticut’s, it seems likely that gun violence victims will bring similar claims elsewhere. Victims are thus likely to allege that a gun manufacturer’s aggressive marketing of combat-style weapons violates a state statute – like an unfair trade practice law – that is applicable to the sale or marketing of a firearm.
The fate of the Sandy Hook lawsuit and any others that follow will depend on the outcome of an all-but-certain appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the court rejects the Connecticut Supreme Court’s broad interpretation of the word “applicable” in the federal statue, that will restore the immunity from suit that gun makers have enjoyed for more than a decade.
However, if the top U.S. court adopts Connecticut’s broad interpretation, then the gun industry can expect to be the target of a great deal more litigation in the years to come.
Netanyahu cancels UN visit over post-poll ‘political context’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled his planned visit to the United Nations General Assembly due to the "political context" in Israel, sources in his office told AFP Wednesday.
Initial results from Tuesday's general election show Netanyahu's Likud party tied with the Blue and White alliance of his main challenger, former army chief Benny Gantz.
According to Israeli media, with more than 90 percent of ballots counted, Netanyahu's right-wing Likud had 31 seats, while Gantz's Blue and White took 32 places in Israel's 120-member parliament.
If the results hold, it will be a major setback for Netanyahu, who hoped to form a right-wing coalition similar to his current administration as he faces possible corruption charges in the weeks ahead.
Whoopi Goldberg drops the hammer on Trump impeachment: ‘We’re a lawless country right now — open your eyes’
"The View" host Whoopi Goldberg urged viewers to open their eyes to President Donald Trump's lawlessness -- and demand accountability.
The show's panelists discussed former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which co-host Abby Huntsman denounced as a "total embarrassment for democracy," and Goldberg said it was even worse than that.
"Even if you start to impeach him, he's there for the next two years," said Goldberg, who was wearing a wig from her upcoming role in Stephen King's "The Stand." "It's going to take that long. Look how long it took to impeach (Bill) Clinton."
Let me take you down: Strawberry Field opens to public
Beatles fans can now take a trip through the childhood sanctuary of John Lennon that inspired the seminal song "Strawberry Fields Forever", with the former children's home opening its doors to the public.
Lennon used to climb over the fence from his aunt's house, where he grew up, and play with other children at the Strawberry Field orphanage.
Its importance in shaping Lennon's personality was laid bare in the classic 1967 psychedelic hit.
Around 60,000 fans flock each year to the site to have their photographs taken outside the famous red gates, but until now have never been allowed beyond.