Lawsuit In Connecticut Against Remington Et Al Dismissed



A lawsuit brought by some of the families of children killed in Newtown, CT has been dismissed. The lawsuit sought to find Remington, their distributor Camfour, and the dealer Riverview as having been guilty of “negligent entrustment” for selling the Bushmaster AR-15 used by the killer. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis found that the claims put forth by the plaintiffs did not meet one of the six exceptions found in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. She issued her ruling on this past Friday afternoon.

The basis of the lawsuit was on the legal theory of negligent entrustment. That is, did the defendants give, sell, or “entrust” their product knowing full well that it would be misused or had the high potential to be misused. An example of negligent entrustment would be loaning your car to a friend to pick up some more beer when you knew he had been drinking. In this case the plaintiffs argued that an AR-15 was so dangerous and so “assaultive” that it should never have been sold to “civilians”.

In determining her decision, Judge Bellis examined whether the actions of the defendants constituted negligent entrustment under Connecticut state law and then pursuant to the PLCAA. After first examining the history of negligent entrustment and relevant court cases both in Connecticut and outside of it, she first concluded that the actions of Remington and their fellow defendants did not give rise to negligent entrustment.

In the present case, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants’ entrustment of the firearm to the respective entrustees was negligent because the defendants could each foresee the firearm ending up in the hands of members of the an incompetent class in a dangerous environment. The validity of the argument rests on labeling as a misuse the sale of a legal product to a population that is lawfully entitled to purchase such a product. Based on the reasoning from McCarthy, and the fact that Congress has deemed the civilian population competent to possess the product that is at issue in this case, this argument is unavailing. To extend the theory of negligent entrustment to the class of nonmilitary, nonpolice civilians – the general public – would imply that the general public lacks the ordinary prudence necessary to handle an object that Congress regards as appropriate for sale to the general public. This the court is unwilling to do.

 Accordingly, because they do no constitute legally sufficient negligent entrustment claims pursuant to state law, the plaintiffs’ negligent entrustment allegations do not satisfy the negligent entrustment exception to PLCAA. Therefore, unless another PLCAA exception applies, the court must grant the defendants’ motion to strike.

McCarthy, which Judge Bellis references, was a case brought by Carolyn McCarthy against Olin for selling Black Talon cartridges. Her husband’s murderer had used these Winchester cartridges in his killing spree on the Long Island Railroad. The McCarthy case was dismissed under the PLCAA.

Though Judge Bellis did not need to consider whether the defendants’ actions constituted negligent entrustment under the narrower definitions set forth by the PLCAA given they failed to meet the broader standard set under Connecticut state law, she did so in the “interest of thoroughness” and to provide further support for her decision.

After examining the plaintiffs’ case in the light of the more limited definition of negligent entrustment, Judge Bellis concluded that the immunity provided by the PLCAA prevailed. She also examined the plaintiffs’ argument that the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act allowed them to bring this action as an exception to PLCAA due to a violation of a state statute. This, too, was dismissed.

Although PLCAA provides a narrow exception under which plaintiffs may maintain an action for negligent entrustment of a firearm, the allegations in the present case do not fit within the common-law tort of negligent entrustment under well-established Connecticut law, nor do they come within PLCAA’s definition of negligent entrustment. Furthermore, the plaintiffs cannot avail themselves of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUPTA) to bring this action within PLCAA’s exception allowing lawsuits for a violation of a state statute applicable to the sale or marketing of firearms. A plaintiff under CUPTA must allege some kind of consumer, competitor, or other commercial relationship with a defendant, and the plaintiffs here have alleged no such relationship.

For all of the foregoing reasons, the court grants in their entirety the defendants’ motions to strike the amended complaint. 

Judge Bellis’ opinion ran to 54 pages. I surmise that one of the reasons she took so much time to lay out her arguments for approving the motion to strike is so that it will withstand scrutiny by an appeals court. The plaintiffs’ have vowed to appeal this ruling.

As might be expected, this ruling was attacked by both Hillary Clinton and the gun prohibitionist lobby. Clinton quickly released a tweet saying it was “incomprehensible that our laws could protect gun makers over the Sandy Hook families. We need to fix this.” Robyn Thomas of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (sic) attributed the decision to “the gun lobby’s destructive grip on Washington.” Lest anyone forget, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was enacted in 1995 as a response to multiple municipal lawsuits seeking to destroy the firearms industry through litigation. It also provides only limited immunity and not a blanket immunity against negligence.

As Bad As The Sandy Hook Truthers

I and others get regular emails from what I call “Sandy Hook Truthers”. They assert a number of things including that the whole thing was a hoax. A recent Hillary Clinton fundraising email is in the same league as the Truthers.

As reported by the Daily Caller, the email is headlined, “The differences between Senator Sanders and me.” It goes on to assert that SHE is the only one standing with the Sandy Hook families because SHE voted against the Protection for Legal Commerce in Arms Act of 2005.

In 2007, Senator Ted Kennedy made a valiant effort to pass immigration reform — I stood with him and voted for that bill. Senator Sanders voted against it.


This week, families from Sandy Hook are in court suing the manufacturer of the gun that killed their children, challenging the law that gives gun-makers legal immunity. I voted against that law. Senator Sanders voted for it.

The bill passed the Senate in a 65-31 vote and the House in a 283-144 vote. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was in the House of Representatives then as the sole representative from the state of Vermont. He along with 59 Democrats voted for passage of the PLCAA. Only four Republicans voted against it including, believe it or not, then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

What Hillary Clinton should be railing against are scum-dog ambulance chasing lawyers who are preying on the emotions of the families of the dead children of Sandy Hook. The manufacturer of the stolen AR-15 is no more responsible for the deaths of those children than you or I. That doesn’t stop the ambulance chasing lawyer from dreaming of a big payday along with big headlines.

Likewise, when it comes to presidential politics and the chance to scarf up money and votes, everything is on the table for Hillary. If it puts her in the same league as the Truthers, so what. They deny the event happened and she is saying that Bernie stands in the way of “justice” for those poor families. Whether she believes what she says is true or not is irrelevant. Money and votes – not the families of Sandy Hook – is what she cares about.

Day By Day Nails OFA And Their Blood Dancing

Chris Muir of Day by Day Cartoon nails Obama’s continuing campaign arm Organizing for Action which is encouraging people to hold “Newtown anniversary events”.

These ghoulish events are meant to push Obama’s gun control agenda reports The Hill.

Organizing for Action (OFA) says it intends the events to be a “powerful reminder of what we lost a year ago, and a reminder that we as a nation need to do more to prevent gun violence and keep our communities safe.”

OFA says that the events will be held in towns and cities across the country and will be used to “call on Congress to finally take action to make our communities safer.”

Following the mass shooting that left 20 schoolchildren and six school employees dead, Obama called for legislation that would expand background checks on firearm purchases, create new penalties on straw purchases and include new funding for school security.

Noting that The Hill characterized OFA as Obama’s “campaign arm”, Glenn Reynolds said “it’s super-creepy that a term-limited president has one.” To me, OFA seems like something one might have seen in Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany, or Mussolini’s Italy. In other words, an organization whose sole purpose is to be an extra-governmental, extra-political party organization providing cult-like followers to the man in power. That goes beyond creepy in my opinion; that is scary.

Courtesy of Chris Muir

Confirms Why We Shouldn’t “Glorify” Rampage Killings

Investigators in Connecticut released a report yesterday concerning the December 2011 murders in Newtown. It says the shooter was “obsessed” with mass murders.

From the Wall Street Journal:

During their search of the (redacted) home, law-enforcement officials found a spreadsheet that tracked mass murders over the years, including the names of the assailants and information about each incident. They also found a “large amount of materials relating to Columbine shootings” as well as a “computer game titled ‘School Shooting’ where the player controls a character who enters a school and shoots at students” and “commercial movies depicting mass shootings,” the report said.

Stephen Sedensky III, state’s attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury, CT, who led the investigation said they may never conclusively know the killer’s motivation “despite the collection of extensive background information on the shooter through a multitude of interviews and other sources.”

However, the shooter’s obsession with mass murders in general and Columbine in particular serves to prove Ari Schulman’s contention that the media-driven publicity of these killings only serves to feed the next killer.

No Shame

I realize that the concept of shame is an old-fashioned one and that it seems out of place in the post-modern world. Thus, the attempt by the White House to shame the Congress into passing gun control comes across as both quaint and manipulative.

The latest instance is using the mother of one of the children murdered in Newtown to deliver President Obama’s weekly radio and Internet address. It has been released as a YouTube video and MP3 file in addition to the transcript below.

Remarks of Francine Wheeler
The President’s Weekly Address

Hi. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not the President. I’m just a citizen. And as a citizen, I’m here at the White House today because I want to make a difference and I hope you will join me.

My name is Francine Wheeler. My husband David is with me. We live in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

David and I have two sons. Our older son Nate, soon to be 10 years old, is a fourth grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our younger son, Ben, age six, was murdered in his first-grade classroom on December 14th, exactly 4 months ago this weekend.

David and I lost our beloved son, but Nate lost his best friend. On what turned out to be the last morning of his life, Ben told me, quite out of the blue, “ I still want to be an architect, Mama, but I also want to be a paleontologist, because that’s what Nate is going to be and I want to do everything Nate does.”

Ben’s love of fun and his excitement at the wonders of life were unmatched His boundless energy kept him running across the soccer field long after the game was over. He couldn’t wait to get to school every morning. He sang with perfect pitch and had just played at his third piano recital. Irrepressibly bright and spirited, Ben experienced life at full tilt.

Until that morning. 20 of our children, and 6 of our educators – gone. Out of the blue.

I’ve heard people say that the tidal wave of anguish our country felt on 12/14 has receded. But not for us. To us, it feels as if it happened just yesterday. And in the four months since we lost our loved ones, thousands of other Americans have died at the end of a gun. Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief.

Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.

Sometimes, I close my eyes and all I can remember is that awful day waiting at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Firehouse for the boy who would never come home – the same firehouse that was home to Ben’s Tiger Scout Den 6. But other times, I feel Ben’s presence filling me with courage for what I have to do – for him and all the others taken from us so violently and too soon.

We have to convince the Senate to come together and pass commonsense gun responsibility reforms that will make our communities safer and prevent more tragedies like the one we never thought would happen to us.

When I packed for Washington on Monday, it looked like the Senate might not act at all. Then, after the President spoke in Hartford, and a dozen of us met with Senators to share our stories, more than two-thirds of the Senate voted to move forward.

But that’s only the start. They haven’t yet passed any bills that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And a lot of people are fighting to make sure they never do.

Now is the time to act. Please join us. You can talk to your Senator, too. Or visit WhiteHouse.gov to find out how you can join the President and get involved.

Help this be the moment when real change begins. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

While I feel sorrow for the family, their grief at losing their son is not a reason to pass measures that are at once both ineffective in stopping another Newtown shooting and an infringement on the Second Amendment guarantees. If the White House and their fellow gun prohibitionists were really serious about trying to avert another Newtown, they would be looking at mental health issue and school security measures such as arming and training teachers.

To get a better perspective on grief and its misuse here, read Michael Bane’s post entitled “Riverdance in Blood”. I recommended it earlier this week and I’m doing it again. As he notes, the grief of the victims drives them to demand a solution to insoluble problems which is the case with Mrs. Wheeler above.

Quote Of The Day

Given that your tax dollars were used to fly some of the families of the victims of the shootings in Newtown down to Washington aboard Air Force One to lobby Congress for gun control, Michael Bane’s post from yesterday takes on special relevance. He examines whether victims’ families have any particular claim on “truth”. He concludes:

Yes, the words of victims have special poignancy, but what they don’t
have is any special truth. Grief drives us to look toward the heavens
and demand an answer from any nearby Deity. Grief drives us to demand a
solution to the fundamental insoluble problem, which is that the world
is as it is. Bad things happen, often to good people, and grief drives
us to…do something.

Read the whole post and keep that in mind while these families and their tragedy are being used to further the political agenda of Obama, Bloomberg, and the rest of the gun prohibitionists.

About That .323 Caliber Rifle

The search warrant for the Newtown shooter’s home was released yesterday. This occasioned a number of stories about what was found. The detestable Piers Morgan tried to claim that both the shooter and his mother were NRA members based upon certificates for completing a basic NRA firearm safety course and a copy of the “NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting” being found in the house. The NRA confirmed later that neither the shooter nor his mother were members.

 CBS News reported that the police found a number of firearms and knives.

Authorities found numerous knives, including samurai swords. They found a
military-style uniform in Lanza’s bedroom and handwritten notes
containing the addresses of local gun shops. The guns found at the home
included a .323-caliber Enfield Albian bolt-action rifle, a .22-caliber
Savage Mark II rifle, a BB gun and a .22-caliber Volcanic starter
pistol.

Normally, when we see such obvious mistakes in a report from the mainstream media, we would pass it off to their persistent lack of knowledge about firearms. While the lack of knowledge about firearms may be present in this case, that description of a “.323-caliber Enfield Albian” rifle comes directly from the search warrant inventory.

The search and inventory of the house was conducted by the Connecticut State Police Major Crime Squad and their forensics team. If you look on pages 8 and 9 of the released search warrant and inventory, you will see listed a number of items. In particular look at Item 13 and Item 14. The first is the contents of a gun safe which included two boxes of .303 British ammunition. The second is a rifle described as “One Enfield Albian bolt action rifle, .323 caliber, model no. 44MKI, SN HC22273A”. The inventory was signed by Detective Jeffrey Payette, #679, of the Connecticut State Police.

In all likelihood, the rifle in question is an Enfield SMLE No.4Mk1 in .303 caliber made at Albion Motors during WWII. Given that the Connecticut State Police found .303 British ammunition at the home, one would have thought that the detectives would have made the link between the ammo and the rifle. That they didn’t goes to show that just because a cop carries a gun it doesn’t mean that he or she knows much about firearms.