POLITICS

Remington Arms Included 18,000 Cartoons In Docs Sent To Sandy Hook Families' Lawyers

The company "treated discovery as a game" when it sent 33,000 useless images along with breadcrumbs of potentially relevant information, lawyers said.

The lawyers representing the families of multiple victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in a lawsuit against gun-maker Remington Arms said the company made a mockery of the court system when it included tens of thousands of “random” images in court-ordered discovery documents.

In a blistering motion filed last week in Connecticut state Superior Court, the lawyers representing those whose loved ones were killed in the 2012 massacre said the gun company threw in thousands of “random” images with internal documents it was ordered to give to the lawyers. The files included more than 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 the complaint.

“Remington has treated discovery as a game,” Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder said in the filing. “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.”

Remington Arms has been in litigation since 2014 when families of those who died at Sandy Hook filed a lawsuit arguing that the company should be held liable for making and promoting the Bushmaster AR-15-style weapon that was used to kill 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut.

Remington’s appeal to stop the lawsuit was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2019, and the gun-maker was accused last year of trying to use its bankruptcy filing as a means to escape the lawsuit. However, the company’s new legal tactic of muddling court-ordered document production may be its most bold and disrespectful yet.

“Having represented to the plaintiffs and the Court on multiple occasions that their document productions were ‘substantially complete’ and represented that there was great ‘substance and breadth’ to those productions, the truth is there for all to see,” the filing says, before producing specific examples of the irrelevant images produced by Remington. “So, if a picture really is worth a thousand words, here are some pictures to give the Court a sense of the ‘substance and breadth’ that can be found in Remington’s document productions:”

Some of the thousands of cartoon images included in Remington Arms' court-ordered documents handover.
Some of the thousands of cartoon images included in Remington Arms' court-ordered documents handover.

“If more proof of the ‘substance and breadth’ of Remington’s document productions is needed,” the filing goes on, “there is also this:” 

More irrelevant images Remington Arms included in their document production.
More irrelevant images Remington Arms included in their document production.

“There are 18,459 more images such as these in Remington’s document production,” the filing continues. “But these cartoons are not all. There are also another 15,825 image files of people gokarting, riding dirt bikes, and socializing, another 1,521 video files of gender reveal parties and the ice bucket challenge, not to mention multiple duplicate copies of Remington catalogues.”

The lead attorney for the families, Josh Koskoff, said he isn’t surprised by Remington’s latest conduct.

“Nothing about the tactics that have been employed by the defense ... surprise me,” Koskoff told HuffPost on Thursday. “The last thing Remington wants is for us to get the information that these families deserve from them, because I’m sure they know it’s deeply incriminating about their marketing conduct. This is a defendant that doesn’t want these families to know the truth, because they’re worried about the truth. That’s the only conclusion you can draw.” 

While there are more than 6,600 “potentially useful documents” for the plaintiffs, there are just over 2,100 emails included over a span of seven years “for a company that employed more than 30 marketing personnel in 2010 alone,” the filing says. The lawyers are now asking that the court order Remington to produce all relevant documents, including suspected missing emails.

If the avalanche of irrelevant images also included all the pertinent documents that the Sandy Hook lawyers had asked for, there wouldn’t be an issue, Koskoff said.

“If we got a bunch of this stuff ― this absurd stuff ― along with really relevant, thorough documents that show they’re taking our case seriously, that they’re giving us all these emails we deserve, then there would be no issue,” Koskoff said. “We understand things get caught up in computer systems, but I think what this shows is a lack of seriousness on the part of the defendant to give these families what they deserve.” 

Remington’s lead attorney, James Vogts, told the Connecticut Post on Tuesday that it would “respond to this motion in the coming weeks, and point out what it believes are incorrect representations, numerous half-truths, and important omissions by counsel.”