Remington Settlement Results in $73M Payment to Resolve Claims by Families of Children Killed in Sandy Hook Massacre

The settlement will be paid by Remington's insurers and includes the release of numerous internal documents which Sandy Hook families say show overly aggressive and dangerous marketing of its firearms.

In an unprecedented settlement with a gun manufacturer, Remington has agreed to pay $73 million to resolve litigation over it’s role in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, after a court found that families could pursue their lawsuit alleging that the gun maker engaged in years of reckless marketing for its Bushmaster AR-15 style rifle, which was used in the shooting.

After a seven year legal battle surrounding a lawsuit filed against Remington by surviving parents and family members of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims, the State of Connecticut Superior Court cleared the way for the case to move forward under the state’s unfair trade practices laws. While many of the details of the settlement have not been released, it is believed to provide the maximum amount of compensation the families could collect from assets and insurance proceeds remaining from the now-defunct company, and included an ability for the families to release of troves of internal documents that may help change the marketing of fire arms in the United States.

The Remington Sandy Hook lawsuit was first filed by nine surviving families in the Connecticut Superior Court on December 13, naming Bushmaster Firearms International, LLC, and its parent company, Remington Outdoor, Co. as defendants, raising allegations that the defendants used reckless marketing strategies to target younger, at-risk males that resulted in the mass killings at the elementary school.

The families who filed the wrongful death lawsuit sought to prove that the Remington and Bushmaster had unlawfully marketed the AR-15-style rifle, which a 20-year-old gunman used in the mass shooting on December 14, 2012, killing 20 elementary school children and six faculty members.

The complaint outlined several key claims, including allegations that Remington began aggressively marketing the militaristic capabilities of the weapon in 2007, after a private equity firm took over Remington, which skyrocketed the sales of the AR-15 style rifles by roughly 200%.

The aggressive marketing strategies were alleged to have been put in place not long after the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was passed in October 2005, which is a United States law that protects firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products.

The lawsuit was met with extreme criticism from gun makers and gun lobbyists at first, challenging that the standing of the claims due to federal law that gives broad immunity to the gun industry.

However, in March 2019, the Connecticut Supreme Court cleared the way for families of children killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School to proceed with the lawsuit against Remington, ruling in a 4-3 opinion that the lawsuit against Remington could move forward based on state laws concerning marketing, since the PLCAA does allow for firearms manufacturers to be held liable for negligent entrustment when they have a reason to know a gun is intended for use in crime.

The ruling stated the court recognizes claims of injury and death allegedly caused by wrongful advertising and marketable practices. “at least to the extent that it prohibits the unethical advertising of dangerous products for illegal purposes”.

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Arguments outlined in the lawsuit claimed the now bankrupt Remington violated Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act by purposefully appealing to the very kinds of people most likely to commit mass murder, stating the Bushmaster rifle resembles many used in violent video games.

Following the state court’s decision to allow the lawsuit to move forward, Remington appealed to the highest federal court, the Supreme Court, yet was denied, remanding the case back to the lower court in Connecticut.

Following the Supreme Court’s denial, Remington’s insurance companies attempted to settle the wrongful death claims with the families for $3.6 million each, but that deal was rejected by the plaintiff’s, who pushed for payment of the full amount of available coverage and assets, as well as the ability to uncover documents that highlight the role gun manufacturers have had in driving increases in access to military weapons commonly used in school schootings.

The settlement is the first time a gun manufacturer has paid to settle a claim it was liable for a mass shooting. The settlement will be paid by several insurance companies, as Remington is currently in bankruptcy.


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