Anti-Gun Law Professors Pen Amicus Brief In Bushmaster Lawsuit

Thirteen law professors have penned an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs in Soto et al v. Bushmaster et al. This is the Connecticut state case where Bushmaster, the distributor, and the FFL are being sued for negligent entrustment for selling an AR15 to the Newton murderer’s mother. The case is before the Connecticut Supreme Court on appeal after it was dismissed at the superior court level where the judge said negligent entrustment did not apply.

From the Connecticut Law Tribune:

While a state Superior Court previously ruled negligent entrustment doesn’t apply in this case, the professors’ brief claims the “flexible tort has been applied to a range of domains, including firearms.”


The brief’s co-author, Stanford law professor Nora Freeman Engstrom, said negligent entrustment boils down to one question. “That is, did the defendant take adequate precautions given the magnitude of the foreseeable risk? And, here, the jury might ultimately find the defendant failed to take adequate precautions in their sale of military grade assault weapons to an untrained civilian population.”


Negligent entrustment occurs when a party provides a product to another party knowing the receiving party may injure someone.

The first case cited in their brief is State v. Skakel in support of their argument for a “flexible tort”. That was the murder case involving the Kennedy cousin who may or may not have killed a 15 year old girl with a golf club. As things would have it, Michael Skakel’s original attorney was my mom’s first cousin and the Skakel family attorney. How weird is that?

Among the group of attorneys on the brief is Prof. John J. Donohue III of Stanford University. Prof. Donohue is best known for his attacks on John Lott’s research.


11 thoughts on “Anti-Gun Law Professors Pen Amicus Brief In Bushmaster Lawsuit”

  1. From Tom Lindsey – a comment I deleted by mistake: If you ever played golf with me you'd understand the Skakel case. AR15s are another matter.

  2. Negligent entrustment occurs when a party provides a product to another party knowing the receiving party may injure someone.

    IANAL, but this doesn't seem entirely right. This broad interpretation (the inclusion of the word "may") would make it negligent entrustment to EVER sell a knife, a car, a bottle of whiskey … or anything with which one person "may" injure another.

    It seems to me, "Negligent entrustment occurs when a party provides a product to another party knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the receiving party intends to use it to injure someone," would be a more accurate statement.

    1. I think you are correct on this. Moreover, what gets me about this case is that the killer obtained the firearm by killing his own mother. If that isn't illegally obtained, what is?

    2. So the antis are calling Bushmaster ARs "military grade?" LOL! Maybe someone from M4carbine.net ought to file an amicus brief explaining just how far Shrubmasters fall from the Technical Data Package!

  3. It would be very interesting to see figures comparing injuries caused by motor vehicles versus injuries caused by firearms, and AR-15 rifles specifically. Then we could all sue all the car manufacturers out of existence.

    Fun fact: I've been seriously injured by someone who was negligently entrusted with an automobile.

  4. "…here, the jury might ultimately find the defendant failed to take adequate precautions in their sale of military grade assault weapons to an untrained civilian population."

    So an adequate precaution would be to only sell to the government and the military (who incidentally typically buy full auto M-16s, not semi-auto AR-15s).

    "Negligent entrustment occurs when a party provides a product to another party knowing the receiving party may injure someone."

    If that is the case, then Mary Jo Koepechne's family should sue Oldsmobile.

    1. Given that firearms including full auto ones are stolen on a regular basis from police cars, I wonder if they would be consider "negligent entrustment"?

  5. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics all reported rifle homicides are about one third the number of homicides using "Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)", in 2014 there were 248 homicides reported using rifles of all types and 660 homicides involving personal weapons. Admittedly these are homicides, but firearm accidental injuries are fewer than homicides and we all know the astronomically higher numbers involving vehicle injury

  6. I cannot see the logic presented in the Amicus brief. Citing the Skakel case? What adequate precautions are there for the felonious use of a golf club? As was pointed out by a earlier poster, the Sandy Hook shooter (I won't use his name) killed his mother in order to take possession of the Bushmaster. What precautions could the company take to prevent that?

  7. So you can sue Bushmaster – except you really can't because they "entrusted" the AR-15 to Davidson's. Oops.
    So sue Davidson's (the wholesaler) – except you really can't because they "entrusted" the AR-15 to the local gun store. Oops.
    So sue the gun store – that might work – except you really can't. Because the person they sold it to was the mom, not the perp, and they made her go through an FBI NICS check. Which means they did their due diligence. Which means the ONLY people you can sue are the FBI!

    Oh wait – they have an airtight defense. They said Mom was okay, not kiddo. And how did he get the gun? Oh, right. He murdered her.

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