Why the Latest Ruling in the Sandy Hook Shooting Litigation Matters
1 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 18, 2019
On March 19, 2019 the Connecticut Supreme Court officially released its opinion in Soto v. Bushmaster Firearms International, LLC. Because the decision greenlights civil discovery and trial for the Sandy Hook plaintiffs seeking compensation from the maker, distributor,and retailer of the gun used by the shooter, the ruling received much attention in the popular press. It is, however, very easy to get the wrong impression about the significance of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision and the avenues it creates for both the plaintiffs and the defendants in the litigation. The decision is both more and less significant than it seems at first glance. It opens a serious pathway to liability under the PLCAA and creates a strategic dilemma for the defendant as to whether to appeal or go to trial. Yet the PLCAA remains a bar to most types of civil action to which other product makers and sellers are subject. In the absence of comprehensive congressional regulation, it will remain difficult to require or motivate gun makers to enhance the safety of firearms design and distribution.
Keywords: Gun control, Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, PLCAA, Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices, UDAP, Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, CUTPA, products liability, state attorneys general, consumer protection, Sandy Hook, Newtown
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