HARTFORD, Conn. – A victory involving a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer in the Sandy Hook mass shooting in Connecticut could open the door for other victims of mass
shootings, including those at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, but a win is unlikely, according to a lawyer.
The Soto v. Bushmaster Firearms International LLC case in
the Connecticut Superior Court has progressed further than any other case
against a gun manufacturer. In 2012, 20 children and six adults were
killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut by Adam Lanza. Lanza
used an AR-15 rifle made by Bushmaster Firearms.
The victims’ families are claiming Lanza would not have been
able to kill so many people if the assault weapon wasn’t sold to civilians.
In the past, cases against gun manufacturers have been
dropped early in the process. There is a reason for this - the law protects them
just as it does manufacturers of cars and other products that may be used to
break the law.
“The federal law prohibits liability action against the
manufacturers, distributors and dealers of firearms or ammunition,” attorney David
Goldman recently told the Florida Record. “There’s always a possibility (the
victims could win). I would think if it does go through, it would be fixed on
The worst mass shooting in U.S. history took place June 12 in
Orlando when 49 people were killed and 53 were injured at the Pulse Nightclub by
Omar Mateen. Mateen allegedly used an AR-15 rifle made by Sig Sauer he had bought legally
a short time before the shooting. He also purportedly used a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic
There’s nothing stopping victims and family members of Orlando
shooting victims from joining together to go after the manufacturer of the gun
used in Pulse Nightclub Shooting, but it’s a bad idea, Goldman said. If a case
like this is brought up in Florida, it would most likely be dismissed and all of
the plaintiffs named in the case would be responsible for paying the all the legal
fees for the other side, Goldman said.
“It’s bad enough they
lost a child; if they end having to go bankrupt and lose everything else in
their lives because they’ve been talked into it (filing a case), that’s a
mistake,” Goldman said.
There is another avenue the victims and their families could
take that may be more successful. Goldman said there have been reports the
shooter did transfer property to his brother-in-law without his wife’s consent, which
would make that action void.
The steps taken in the Sandy Hook case may also affect steps
taken in Orlando from an insurance perspective,
Lynne McChristian, the Florida spokesperson for the Insurance
Information Institute, said.
In a lawsuit filed in the Newtown case in the
Sandy Hook shooting, families of the victims received money from a homeowners
insurance policy held by Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza. The gun used in the
shooting was owned by Nancy Lanza and her son had access to it. This could
provide another possible avenue for compensation for the victims’ families.