Two years after a gunman killed twenty-six people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the families of ten victims have filed a lawsuit against the maker, distributer and seller of the rifle. Berkowitz and Hanna LLC notes that the lawsuit alleges negligence and wrongful death.
The family of Victoria Soto, a teacher at Sandy Hook who was killed that day while protecting her students, joined the lawsuit against the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15. After failing to get gun control legislation passed, the families decided that going after the maker of the gun could possibly lead to change. “I hope to get the gun industry to accept responsibility,” said Jillian Soto in an ABC News article.
Interestingly, Berkowitz and Hanna LLC points out, there is a law that shields manufacturers and dealers when someone uses a gun to commit a crime. One exception, however, is for “negligent entrustment.” This allows lawsuits to be filed if the seller was negligent in selling a gun “when the seller knows or reasonably should know” the person is likely to and does use the gun to harm others.
According to the article, the plaintiffs in this wrongful death lawsuit are not “alleging negligence against the seller for specifically allowing [gunman Adam]Lanza to possess the weapon—it was purchased by his mother—but rather that all the defendants are negligent for marketing and selling what is essentially a military weapon for civilian use, and for entrusting any civilian to possess one.”
It is an astute argument, and it will be interesting to see how this case is resolved. Depending on the outcome, it could have a significant impact on gun sales in the U.S.
Image by Kerina via Flickr.com