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Judge To Hear Argument On Dismissing Sandy Hook Families’ Lawsuit Against Gun Maker

Should this lawsuit have been filed in the first place?

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A Superior Court judge Monday will hold a closely watched hearing on whether to dismiss a lawsuit by families of some Sandy Hook Elementary School shootingvictims against companies that manufacture and sell the AR-15 rifle used in the 2012 massacre.

The hearing in Bridgeport Superior Court will likely determine if the lawsuit, filed by nine families and a school administrator who survived the Dec. 14 shooting, will go forward.

Gun manufacturers, legal experts and Second Amendment supporters will be watching the case closely to see if the plaintiffs’ argument – that the gun manufacturer can be sued because it knew the AR-15 wasn’t suitable for civilian use when introduced to the market – can pierce what has been the nearly impenetrable wall of a federal law known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).

Since the PLCAA was enacted by Congress in 2005 to protect firearms manufacturers and dealers from civil liability when their guns are used in crimes, nearly every lawsuit filed against gun manufacturers, whether in federal or state courts, has been dismissed.

“This is an innovative argument and perhaps they will win but they have a tough road ahead of them,” UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler said. “The purpose of PLCAA was to shut down lawsuits against gun manufacturers and it has gone a long way towards doing just that.”

Winkler said the stakes are high for the gun manufacturers.

“If this lawsuit is successful it will lead to a wave of litigation against gun manufacturers and gun companies that sell the AR-15,” Winkler said. “If this argument is successful you could see gun manufacturers stop selling these guns to the public permanently,”

For the families who have waited more than a year for the case to get this stage all they are seeking is “their day in court,” Mark Barden, one of the plaintiffs, said. Barden’s son Daniel was killed inside a classroom at Sandy Hook.

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