Newtown families may seek wrongful death lawsuit against gun maker

With the second anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, 11 families of those killed have filed court documents indicating they plan to file lawsuits.

According to the Hartford Courant, in the past week nearly a dozen families of children killed in the 2012 event have filed court documents to establish estates in the names of the late youth with the parents as administrators. This step is required before filing suit seeking damages.

While it does not guarantee that a suit is imminent, sources told the Courant that the families sat down with Bridgeport-based lawfirm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder to discuss a potential lawsuit against Bushmaster, the North Carolina-based manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15 used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook attack. Other targets of the suit could be Nancy Lanza’s probate estate and insurance carrier. However, the most valuable asset of the estate, her home and murder location, is now property of the city of Newtown.

As noted by the Connecticut Law Tribune, “The statute of limitations to file most civil lawsuits in Connecticut is two years. However, it’s possible that claims against manufacturers of some of the weapons used in the shooting might have a longer statute of limitations.”

Nevertheless, a suit against Bushmaster could be derailed by federal regulations in place for nearly a decade.

In October 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that had passed through Congress by better than a 2 to 1 margin. The act prohibits both lawful firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for negligence when crimes have been committed with their products. House Dems attempted to roll back PLCAA last year with little result.

Prior to the enactment of PLCAA, Bushmaster paid $2 million to settle a suit brought by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the families of victims of the 2002 Beltway Sniper, John Allen Muhammad. In that case gun control advocates argued that Bushmaster allegedly continued to sell rifles to a gun dealer from which Muhammad shoplifted his weapon from despite being aware of the store’s history of record-keeping violations as cited by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Under Connecticut law, a lawyer representing the families would have to have a lawsuit in the hands of one of the 265 state marshals by Sunday, not necessarily filed in court. The marshal then has 30 days in which to serve the parties being sued.