Connecticut Supreme Court Rules Gun Manufacturer CAN Be Sued for Sandy Hook

Justices in Connecticut have ruled, 4-3, that Remington can be sued over the deaths in the Sandy Hook shooting.

The elementary school massacre that left 20 children and 6 teachers dead was one of the more horrific instances of violence the nation has seen, an adult targeting children.

The ruling surrounds how the Bushmaster AR-15 was marketed.

A divided Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled gun maker Remington can be sued over how it marketed the Bushmaster rifle used to kill 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. – Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

Full Article at this link.

This is extremely troubling for manufacturers, especially those who make both Military/LE and civilian equipment.

How a manufacturer sells or markets its product can now void the legal protections from liability from the misuse of that product.

Bad news.

We don’t know the specific language of the ruling yet but this could allow a zealous legal team to present a case where the descriptive language used for a firearm or a misinterpreted “lifestyle” advertisement can be used to hold a manufacturer liable in civil court.

The ruling has the potential to cripple any manufacturer who is sued because someone didn’t like their how their ad looked and construed the ad as violent or promoting violence.

The full text of the court ruling can be found here.

A critical expert from the ruling: “…claims predicated on the theory that the defendants violated CUTPA by advertising and marketing the rifle in an unethical, oppressive, immoral, and unscrupulous manner…”

Contrary to the defendants’ claim, personal injuries resulting in death that are alleged to have resulted directly from wrongful advertising and marketing practices are cognizable under CUTPA: although the term ‘‘actual damages’’ in § 42-110g (a) is not defined in CUTPA, the use of that term in other statutes led this court to conclude that the term ‘‘actual damages’’ in § 42-110g (a) includes personal injuries, and prior case law supported the conclusion that the term ‘‘ascertainable’’ in that portion of § 42-110g (a) providing that a person who suffers ‘‘any ascertainable loss of money or property’’ as a result of a prohibited practice under CUTPA may recover actual damages in no way restricted the damages that are available to plaintiffs who have been directly and personally injured by an unfair trade practice; moreover, a contrary reading of the statute would be inconsistent with the stated intent of the legislature to provide broad protection from unfair trade practices and to incentivize private enforcement of the law, several other courts from other jurisdictions and a majority of Connecticut trial courts addressing the issue have concluded that victims of unfair trade practices may recover for personal injuries, and Federal Trade Commission rulings and cases decided under the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq. [2012 and Supp. V 2017]), which the legislature intended would serve as a basis for interpreting CUTPA’s open-ended language, supported the view that wrongful advertising that poses a genuine risk of physical harm falls under the broad purview of the Federal Trade Commission Act and, by incorporation, CUTPA.

Corey Silverstein is the managing member of Silverstein Legal and focusses his practice on constitutional law issues. Mr. Silverstein can be reached through his website silversteinlegal.com.

He had this to say on the ruling.

“While I understand and respect the Court’s ruling, I do not have to agree with it. This sort of decision will result in a flood of cases by victims of gun violence and the families of deceased victims looking for restitution from a “deeper pocket” said constitutional attorney Corey Silverstein. “I have always believed that everyone deserves their day in court but this decision reeks of political motivations”.

Silverstein continued. “Although it may be a stretch, should steak knife manufacturers now be on guard? Or even automobile manufacturers?”

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