Remington Arms has agreed to settle liability claims from nine families whose loved ones were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The settlement agreement, announced Tuesday in a court filing, is the first time in the U.S. that a gun manufacturer has been held liable for a mass shooting.
The family members of five children and four adults killed in the shooting won $73 million in the settlement, attorneys for the families told HuffPost in a statement. Last July, Remington offered to pay $33 million to settle the lawsuit, which the families declined.
Remington created the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle that Adam Lanza used in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead.
“These nine families have shared a single goal from the very beginning: to do whatever they could to help prevent the next Sandy Hook. It is hard to imagine an outcome that better accomplishes that goal,” Josh Koskoff, the lead attorney representing the families, said in a statement.
In 2019, the Connecticut Supreme Court allowed a lawsuit filed by relatives of nine victims killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School to move forward. The lawsuit argued that Remington should not have sold such a dangerous weapon to the public, and that the gunmaker specifically targeted younger, at-risk males in its marketing and product placement.
“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,” Koskoff said in a statement. “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.”
“Using marketing to convey that a person is more powerful or more masculine by using a particular type or brand of firearm is deeply irresponsible.”
In 2020, lawyers for the Sandy Hook families said Remington filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to escape responsibility from the lawsuit. The following year, as part of its defense, Remington Arms subpoenaed report cards, attendance and employment records of five children and four teachers killed in the shooting.
“We have no explanation for why Remington subpoenaed the Newtown Public School District to obtain the kindergarten and first-grade academic, attendance and disciplinary records of these five school children,” Koskoff said in a statement to HuffPost at the time.
That same year, Remington Arms also sent lawyers for the Sandy Hook families tens of thousands of “random” images in court-ordered discovery documents, including 18,000 cartoon images, more than 15,000 image files of people doing sports and socializing, and more than 1,500 video files including gender reveal parties and ice bucket challenges, according to a court filing.
“Remington has treated discovery as a game,” the law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder said in the court filing at the time. “Unwilling to have this case decided by a jury on the merits with a full record, Remington has sought delay and obfuscation at every turn. Remington’s productions have been inadequate in almost every way imaginable.”
On Tuesday, attorneys for the Sandy Hook parents said they can now make public thousands of pages of Remington Arms’ internal company documents “that prove Remington’s wrongdoing,” according to a statement.
Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son was killed in the shooting, said she hopes the settlement will push gun companies to operate differently.
“My beautiful butterfly, Dylan, is gone because Remington prioritized its profit over my son’s safety,” Hockley said in a statement. “Marketing weapons of war directly to young people known to have a strong fascination with firearms is reckless and, as too many families know, deadly conduct. Using marketing to convey that a person is more powerful or more masculine by using a particular type or brand of firearm is deeply irresponsible. My hope is that by facing and finally being penalized for the impact of their work, gun companies, along with the insurance and banking industries that enable them, will be forced to make their business practices safer than they have ever been.”