A lawyer for families who lost loved ones in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting told Connecticut's highest court on Tuesday that Remington Outdoor Co [FREDM.UL] should be held responsible because its military-themed marketing was created to appeal to young men like killer Adam Lanza.
A Bushmaster rifle lies on the ground at Sandy Hook Elementary School following the December 14, 2012, shooting rampage in an evidence photo released by Connecticut State Police. He then killed himself. Following Tuesday's arguments, justices will decide whether the families' lawsuit can go to trial.
A representative for the court declined to say when it would rule.
The Sandy Hook families' case rests on whether the company negligently entrusts a buyer with a weapon, which is an exception to the federal law.
Almost five years after her six-year-old son Dylan was killed by Lanza - armed with an AR-15-style rifle made by Remington subsidiary Bushmaster - Nicole Hockley wants the gun manufacturer held accountable.
"What happened in the school that morning was horrific", Vogts said.
A lower court dismissed the lawsuit previous year, ruling that a federal law protects the gun manufacturer. If Tuesday's appeal is successful, the case will advance to the discovery phase, during which Remington's marketing campaigns could be scrutinized.
Attorney for Remington Arms James Vogts argues before the state Supreme Court in Hartford Conn. Tuesday
"No matter how tragic, no matter how much we wish those children and their teachers were not lost and their families had not suffered, the law needs to be applied", Vogts told the court.
The packed courtroom in Hartford, Connecticut, included numerous victims' family members.
"We have not lost one ounce of confidence in the justness in our case", said Ian Hockley, who lost his son, Dylan.
"We hope to see the emails", Koskoff said. The lawsuit claims Remington linked "the AR-15 to macho vigilantism and military-style insurrection" in order to target a "younger demographic" and increase sales. Lanza also killed his mother before the school shooting.
The argument has historically been used where someone lends a vehicle to a high-risk driver who goes on to cause an accident.
The attorney for the 10 families, Josh Koskoff, argued the gun maker can be held responsible under a legal concept called negligent entrustment, which applies when the supplier knows, or should know, the user is likely to harm others, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.
The nation is watching the case closely because if the families succeed, and the state Supreme Court allows it to move forward, it could lead to a flood of lawsuits against gunmakers.