Newtown families seek to get Bushmaster suit back in state court

Attorneys for the 10 families of victims killed during the Sandy Hook shooting are attempting to have their lawsuit pulled out of federal court, claiming that the gun maker is, “forum shopping.”

The suit was filed last December just a day before the two-year anniversary of the shooting in which a mentally unstable man gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators at the start of the school day. Seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief for what they feel is the wrongful death of their loved ones; the suit was brought against Bushmaster Firearms, the company who produced the XM15-E2S rifle used in the mass killing.

In January, Remington Arms Company, LLC, the parent company of Bushmaster Firearms, successfully filed to remove the suit from a Connecticut state court to a federal district court. Remington at the time argued that was correct as it’s headquartered in North Carolina, citing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act as a defense against its alleged involvement in the shooting.

However, an attorney for the Newtown families feel this is a move was improper.

“This is transparent forum shopping by Bushmaster and the other defendants to avoid answering for their conduct in state court,” said Josh Koskoff with the survivors’ legal team in a statement.

Koskoff contends that since the victims, gun buyer and Riverview Sales – the retail outlet that sold the rifle – are all in Connecticut, and they haven’t filed any federal claims, the suit should be heard by a local court.

“The day that Riverview Sales entrusted a Bushmaster assault rifle to a Connecticut resident forever joined all of the defendants to this state,” Koskoff said. “We are confident that the federal court will see defendants’ arguments for what they are and remand this case to Connecticut Superior Court, where it belongs.”

James B. Vogts, an attorney for Remington, responded to the court Tuesday that the plaintiffs are misapplying the common defense rule by seeking to have both the retailer and the manufacturer in the same suit in state court as PLCAA treats claims against the two differently. Remington has sought to have Riverview removed from the suit.

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