You can hardly turn on either local or national news for the past couple of days without hearing that “Remington” settled with the Sandy Hook plaintiffs. The settlement was for $73 million.
For those that are ignorant of the business of the firearms industry, they will think that Remington Arms or Remington Outdoor Company decided to throw in the towel and make a settlement. The problem with this thought is that Remington Outdoor Company as we knew it is long gone. It was dissolved in a bankruptcy court in Alabama in 2020 and its various parts were auctioned off to companies like Ruger, Vista Outdoor, and Franklin Armory among others.
So if Remington as we knew it is gone, who settled?
Today, representatives for the plaintiffs announced they had reached a settlement with Remington Outdoor Company for $75 million. This number is the maximum amount that Remington’s four insurance carriers could fund. The list of insurers includes Ironshore, owned by Liberty Mutual, James River Insurance Co., Chubb Ltd. and Swiss Re.
Although a $73 million settlement isn’t as damaging as the potential $1 billion in damages could have been, it also represents a new development in the ongoing legal battles over gun ownership. Because of this case, there’s now legal precedent that manufacturers can be sued over their marketing practices. In fact, this is already happening. New Jersey is pursuing action against Smith & Wesson based on S&W’s marketing.
I would disagree that there is legal precedent as the case was settled before its final adjudication. I also disagree that the amount was the maximum that they insurers could fund. Rather it was the maximum amount of coverage that had been purchased by the former Remington Outdoor Company.
I think the insurance companies started looking at their legal fees and decided it was cheaper to cut and run. Moreover, it isn’t their name on the settlement.
The firearms industry disowned the settlement. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents gun makers and dealers, said insurers made the decision to settle. The group said the settlement is only between the parties involved, does not create a legal precedent, and does not implicate the larger industry at all.
“The decision to settle in the Soto v. Bushmaster case was not made by a member of the firearms industry,” Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the group, told The Reload. “The settlement was reached between the plaintiffs and the various insurance carriers that held policies with ROC, which effectively no longer exists. We remain confident ROC would have prevailed if this case had proceeded to trial.”
While the advertising for Bushmaster may have been dumb as David Yamane puts it, it did not encourage a middle-aged woman to purchase the rifle, it did not cause a mentally ill young man to kill his mother in her sleep. and then take that stolen rifle to kill those school children and others.
It should be remembered that the only reason this case even continued is because the Connecticut Supreme Court said in a 4-3 decision that the case was about advertising. As a result, Remington could be sued for misleading advertising under state law.