Hartford, CT – The families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown have agreed to settle their lawsuit against North Carolina gunmaker Remington for $73 million.
Remington, which manufactured the Bushmaster AR-style semiautomatic rifle that was used to kill 20 first graders and six staff members in 2012, has filed for bankruptcy, The Washington Post reported.
The killer, who murdered his mother prior to his shooting spree at the elementary school, fatally shot himself after the massacre.
The $73 million settlement marked the first time a gunmaker in the United States was held liable for a mass shooting committed with its product, The Washington Post reported.
The settlement agreement will also allow the victims’ families to release Remington’s marketing documents they obtained during the lawsuit that they claimed showed the company’s culpability for the mass shooting.
The gun manufacture had offered the families of the victims a $33 million settlement in July of 2021 but it was declined.
Josh Koskoff, an attorney for one of the families, said all nine families had the shared goal from the beginning of preventing another Sandy Hook, NPR reported.
Koskoff said it has been about more than the money since beginning, The Washington Post reported.
“A linchpin of the settlement is that it allows these families the rights to share what they learned with the public,” the attorney explained.
The families of the victims and one survivor initially filed the lawsuit against Remington in Connecticut in 2015 and said the gunmaker never should have sold such a dangerous weapon to the public, WTVT reported.
The civil court case alleged the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle marketing was targeted at younger, at-risk males through methods such as product placement in violent video games.
One of the ads featured in the lawsuit against the gun manufacturer featured the rifle against a plain backdrop with the words: “Consider Your Man Card Reissued.”
There was a battle in the Connecticut courts over whether a gun manufacturer could be sued for the actions of someone who purchased their weapon and used it to commit a crime, and the state’s highest court ultimately ruled the suit could go forward against Remington.
Remington appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for relief, with the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others, The Washington Post reported.
The NRA has lobbied hard to have the U.S. Congress pass laws to indemnify gun makers from bad acts committed by their customers.
The NRA has argued that allowing victim and their families to sue manufacturers is a costly, unfair way to penalize the gun makers for crimes committed by others, The Washington Post reported.
“Lawsuits that deflect attention away from mental illness and criminals in order to blame inanimate objects won’t reduce violent crime or make anyone safer,” NRA Association Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Jason Ouimet said in a statement after the decision not to take up the case was announced by the court.
“The firearm on which citizens and first responders rely isn’t the actual problem; the sociopath who steals and misuses a firearm against innocent people is the real problem,” Ouimet said.
In November of 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case and let the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling stand so the case against Remington could proceed, ABC News reported.
The Sandy Hook victims’ families quietly celebrated the settlement on Feb. 15 with their attorneys, NPR reported.
“This victory should serve as a wake-up call not only to the gun industry, but also the insurance and banking companies that prop it up,” Koskoff said. “For the gun industry, it’s time to stop recklessly marketing all guns to all people for all uses and instead ask how marketing can lower risk rather than court it. For the insurance and banking industries, it’s time to recognize the financial cost of underwriting companies that elevate profit by escalating risk. Our hope is that this victory will be the first boulder in the avalanche that forces that change.”