One of the first ever lawsuits to proceed against a gun company for wrongful death has been allowed to move forward by a court in Connecticut, potentially signaling a new approach to how we, as a society, view the prevalence of guns and how they can affect innocent victims. The lawsuit is being brought by several families who lost their children and other family members in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting incident, and claims that the company—Remington Arms Co.—is liable for the wrongful death of their loved ones for having made and sold to the public a gun that is unfit for civilian use (or rather, a gun that is only fit for use as a military weapon).
While some federal and state laws—specifically the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and state consumer protection laws—do protect gun manufacturers in some instances when their products are used for criminal purposes, companies are not protected if they knew or should have known that a particular product could be used in a way that could risk injury to others. While this point will be argued later on in the process, for now, the judge had simply dismissed defendant’s motion to dismiss the case under the federal shield law, allowing these families to “[bring their] fight in court.” The judge agreed with plaintiffs that the weapon used in this case—the Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle—was meant to be used as a military weapon and not civilian use.
In this case, the families of those killed in the massacre are also arguing that the company specifically targeted every day civilians in their advertisements for the semiautomatic rifle, ultimately motivating the gunman to buy one. They argue that, time and time again, mentally unstable individuals and criminals acquire AR-15s easily and unleash their lethal power into schools and other areas, killing innocents. They further state that there is no evidence that semiautomatic rifles are commonly used or necessary for legitimate self-defense by law-abiding citizens.
Harrell & Nowak
While manufacturers cannot always foresee how their products will be used, there must be certain precautions taken, even when it comes to products that are very obviously designed to do damage. When these precautions are not taken, that company can be held liable for wrongful death (if a death occurs due to that negligence).
If you have been harmed as the result of negligence, we can help. The personal injury attorneys at Harrell & Nowak have helped many victims in New Orleans, Kenner, Metairie, and throughout Louisiana obtain financial compensation for their injuries. Our accident lawyers will work to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair recovery. Please contact us today for a free consultation.