Supreme Court Allows Sandy Hook Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturer To Move Forward
The United States Supreme Court refused to grant a writ of certioriari to Remington Arms Co., effectively granting the families of those who were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012 the right to sue the company for its alleged role in the massacre.
A writ of certiorari gives litigants the opportunity to have their cases heard before the High Court. At least four justices must agree to hear the case in order for the writ to be granted. If a writ is refused, it’s because less than four agreed that the case was worth hearing.
The Supreme Court denied the writ to Remington without comment. A denial of a writ today doesn’t necessarily set a precedent for interpretation of the law, and a future court case presented to the Supreme Court could be heard on the issue. However, others may seek to file lawsuits of their own on the matter, given the reluctance of the High Court to take action in this instance.
The families of those who died in the Sandy Hook shooting, where 20 children and six administrators were killed, allege that Remington is partially liable for the deaths of their loved ones. The company produced the AR-15 rifle that the killer used in the attacks, NPR reported.
The Connecticut State Supreme Court ruled in March that the lawsuit could proceed. Remington appealed that ruling to the federal Supreme Court, arguing that provisions in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act granted immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers regarding criminal acts perpetrated with their weapons.
The denial by the High Court signals that the PLCAA may not grant unlimited immunity to gun makers or sellers of weapons.
The Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling in March was a split 4-3 decision, The Hartford Courant reported at the time. The state court ruled “that Congress has not clearly manifested an intent to extinguish the traditional authority of our legislature and our courts to protect the people of Connecticut from the pernicious practices alleged in the present case.”
“The regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety, and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the states’ police powers,” the court’s majority ruled.