Discovery In The Sandy Hook Families Versus Remington Case

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 4 months ago

America Is About To See How Guns Used In Mass Shootings Are Marketed:

When family members and survivors of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School filed suit against Bushmaster in December 2014, it seemed a lot like a lost cause. After all, a 2005 federal law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was designed to prevent people from holding gun manufacturers accountable for wrongful deaths. Even last week, when a Connecticut judge shot down a motion to dismiss the suit, experts said she was just delaying an inevitable dismissal later down the line.

But then last Tuesday, that same judge, Barbara Bellis, of Connecticut’s Superior Court, issued another ruling that determined the suit would be more than symbolic. Specifically, she said the discovery process could begin immediately and set a tentative trial date for April 3, 2018. A jury hearing the case would be historic, but Katherine Mesner-Hage, an attorney for the plaintiffs, says that getting the gun company to open its books for discovery is arguably just as huge.

That’s because she and her co-council have constructed a creative PLCAA exemption, claiming, in essence, that the gun Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook massacre was specifically marketed as a killing machine. As part of discovery, they’ll dig through the gunmaker’s internal company memos and try to prove that the company was negligent.

I spoke to Mesner-Hage about how the gun industry became so protected from civil suits, what she and the other lawyers for the Sandy Hook survivors hope to find in discovery, and how their legal strategy is similar to the one used against Big Tobacco in the 90s.

VICE: What are you hoping to find in discovery that will be such a big deal?
Katherine Mesner-Hage: We’re looking for documents, and we’re looking to depose key people at Remington especially, but also at the distributor and the retail level. We’re asking for internal memos about how to market the AR-15 and how to market specifically the patrolman’s carbine, which is the one that Adam Lanza used.

We want to depose the head of marketing. We want to talk to the people at the company who are making the decisions about marketing. That’s how we build our case, although the marketing speaks for itself on one level. This is our chance to kind of peel back the curtain and see what’s really going on. One of the things about discovery in general is that you don’t know what you’re looking for before you start.

Has any other case against a gun company gotten to the discovery stage since PLCAA was passed? What are the broader implications of this recent decision?
I can’t think of any case that’s gotten to the point in which discovery was open in the post-PLCAA era.

Nothing good can come from this.  As I have said before, the Sandy Hook Families aren’t entitled to that information and the case has no merit.

I know what they’re after.  As I have documented before, the law protects firearms manufacturers, but excepts cases where there is “negligent entrustment.”  I recall thinking as I read this, “this is an oddball exception.”  The reason that it is odd is that firearms manufacturers don’t sell to customers.  They sell to distributors who then sell to stores (some manufacturers sell directly online, but go through a local FFL, e.g., Rock River Arms, LaRue Tactical, etc.).

They are thinking that this exception, the negligent entrustment clause, has not been tested in court and still need fleshing out as to its real definition.  But I don’t agree with lawsuits against gun manufacturers any more than I agree with Tobacco companies being sued over lung cancer.  Evil actions such as was perpetrated that day redound to federal headship in Adam, original sin, and the volitional decision to commit wicked acts.  Marketing has nothing to do with it.

Back in 2005 when I was headed for a professional conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I left Charlotte, N.C. that day and headed towards Western North Carolina.  Instead of driving one of those put-put-put cars companies like to put you in, the car rental agency apologized and told me that the only car left on the lot for me that day was a brand new 2005 Ford Mustang GT.  I recalled laughing out loud to the puzzlement of the sales clerk.  Little did she know, I thought.

I drove towards Murphy, N.C., and past the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center), and on the curvy roads past all of those TVA dams, curve after curve after curve, in a brand new Ford Mustang GT.  It was a great day, that Sunday, and I exceeded the posted speed limit by a wide margin.  A wide margin.  But I didn’t do anything unsafe, and I didn’t cause additional risk for anyone else on the road.

Or perhaps I’m lying or simply a bad judge of risk.  If I had harmed anything or anyone that day, it wouldn’t have been a great day, and I would have been responsible for it.  Ford’s marketing of its 2005 Mustang GT had nothing whatsoever to do with my decision to exceed the posted speed limit.

And Adam Lanza is in hell for what he did since he didn’t know Jesus Christ as his savior and advocate before the Father.  I’m certain that the parents have bitterness and heartache over what happened.  But they’re taking it out on the wrong person, the wrong company, the wrong workers, the wrong objects.  They are poorly trained, theologically and philosophically, and besides that badly mistaken that marketing carbines to young males is somehow responsible for the deaths of their loved ones (witness Charles Whitman who used a bolt action rifle, the best option for his choice of locations).

These parents are in danger of harm to their own souls with this continued blame of the wrong people.  The lawyers are going to get rich, and the judge is a wicked woman and will receive her just recompense eventually, and perhaps sooner.

Prior:

Judge Barbara Bellis Says Sandy Hook Families’ Lawsuit Against Remington Goes Forward

Judge Barbara Bellis: Update On The Sandy Hook Families’ Lawsuit Of Remington

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Comments

  1. On April 27, 2016 at 7:21 am, Jack said:

    An important question, I think, is what can we, mere commoners, do to head this off at the pass?

  2. On April 27, 2016 at 7:47 am, Renov8 said:

    Water the Tree of Liberty as our forefathers did.

  3. On April 27, 2016 at 7:58 am, Jack said:

    I’m a lifetime member of the NRA, in part because they’re an organization with enough legal muscle to “fight back twice as hard” against the statists and gun grabbers.

    Are there other organizations I should support?

    Can you provide some guidance on where to focus my attention and support?

  4. On April 27, 2016 at 8:49 am, Fred said:

    Sir, If I might humbly offer what I do;
    1. Find young, first time and new shooters. Make sure they have a good time at the range. Explain how hitler/mao/stalin/etc took the guns and killed millions. Offer to help them learn more about shooting and self defense. Rinse, repeat.
    2. Make sure reps at all levels know that control/confiscation will not be
    tolerated. I’m not afraid to engage my sheriff, local, state and fed reps. I
    tell them exactly where I stand. Rinse, repeat.
    3. Track, forward and reply to important legislative activities. (see step 2)
    4. I personally do not engage the enemy directly. They are illegitimate. I stay on offense, always.

    Note on step 1; Not everybody is the right embasador to ask 19 yr old young ladies if they want to go play with guns. Use descretion.
    Specifically on step 2;
    a. Sign up for and respond to NRA alerts
    http://www.nramedia.org/subscribe/profile?f=20&id=70555897.c6a43d1a6e39f65b5425a097df6a0d62
    b. Sign up for and respond to GOA alerts
    http://www.nramedia.org/subscribe/profile?f=20&id=70555897.c6a43d1a6e39f65b5425a097df6a0d62

    When the shooting starts I will know that I have done what I can to prevent war and that my conscience is then clear in the use of deadly force before a Holy and just God.

  5. On April 29, 2016 at 1:34 am, R T said:

    Good answer.

  6. On April 27, 2016 at 8:53 am, Damocles said:

    Money is tight these days, but in addition to the NRA, I try to support the 2nd Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America and our state level orgs.

  7. On April 27, 2016 at 11:13 am, GomeznSA said:

    Yep, supporting both national and local gun rights organizations is what each of us needs to do; as we; as the advice that Fred offered.

  8. On April 27, 2016 at 9:00 pm, Zac Cashman said:

    Your much better off supporting the Gun Owners of America & 2nd Amendment foundation then you are the NRA anymore.

    Those 2 groups have won allot of legal precedents in the last decade defending the right to own & be armed.
    The NRA meanwhile has cooperated with the ATF and government helping them in some cases to write the assinine laws they try to create.

  9. On April 28, 2016 at 11:40 am, Archer said:

    On the other hand (and feel free to call me an idealist), the NRA is the biggest gorilla in the room, and it will not ever get any better unless its members start voting in better Board members. And you don’t get to vote unless you’re a Life member or have been paying dues for five consecutive years.

    If you don’t like how they’re representing you, you CAN try to do something about it.

  10. On April 27, 2016 at 3:49 pm, TyreByter said:

    BY FAR AND AWAY SUPPORT THE SECOND AMENDMENT FOUNDATION! THEY ARE AT THE “LEGAL” TIP OF THE SPEAR. HAVE A CLEAR STRATEGY THAT HAS WON US A REPRIEVE IN THE ASSAULT ON 2A. http://freebeacon.com/issues/unconstitutional-us-federal-court-strikes-restrictive-gun-laws-mariana-islands/

    ALSO GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA FOR THEIR LOBBYING PROWESS.

  11. On April 28, 2016 at 11:43 am, Archer said:

    The trouble with SAF is this: they are FANTASTIC at winning in court. Their track record is second to none.

    But they SUCK at proposing and supporting legislation (Gottlieb himself was pushing a background check bill not too long ago — WTF!?). They should stick to court cases and leave legislation to others.

  12. On April 28, 2016 at 1:19 pm, TyreByter said:

    I hear you. We are all human and prone to error. I understood the rationale however did not agree with him. Still the cases they have won are monumental. Especially behind enemy lines in Commiefornia. If I live long enough!

  13. On April 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm, Double-edged sword said:

    Not to argue or offend, but merely suggest not relying on “organizations” (isn’t fedGov an organization of some sort?) — the NRA has done little to curb existing gun infringements/regulations/permitting/requirements and will likely do little to stop new [lowest] common [denominator] sense laws:

    “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one…. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”
    — NRA President Karl T. Frederick testifying before Congress during hearings on the National Firearms Act of 1934

    “We do not think that any sane American, who calls himself an American, can object to placing into this bill the instrument which killed the president of the United States.”
    — NRA Executive Vice-President Franklin Orth supporting a ban on mail order sales of firearms following the assassination of JFK

    Question: “Are there any anti-gun laws which the NRA supports?”
    Answer: “The NRA fully supports the Gun Control Act of 1968.”
    — NRA-ILA head Tanya Metaksa, speaking before the National Press Club (televised on C-SPAN2) on 16 May 1995

    Question (from CNN’s Larry King): “Does the NRA want to abolish the BATF?”
    Answer: “Not only does the NRA not want to abolish the BATF, the NRA doesn’t want to restrict the BATF in any way.”
    — NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, appearing on CNN on 18 May 1995

    “We think it’s reasonable to support the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act. … We think it’s reasonable to expect full enforcement of federal firearms laws by the federal government.”
    — NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, Congressional testimony, 27 May 1999, hearing before 106th Congress, House of Representatives Committee On The Judiciary, Subcommittee On Crime

    “Forget the NRA. They’re the biggest and oldest and they’ve certainly done some good over the years, but they are absolutely committed to compromise—even when they could win instead. They recently co-wrote a Pennsylvania state anti-gun law [Act 17] … with Handgun Control, Inc. then lied about the bill’s anti-gun provisions. They talk very, very tough, but they’ll sell you down the river while bragging about all the good they’re doing for you. Put your money and hopes elsewhere.”
    — Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution (1996)

  14. On April 27, 2016 at 11:11 am, GomeznSA said:

    Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and this ‘test case’ will not proceed any further than it already has. And as well, one can only hope and pray that ‘watering’ the Tree of Liberty will not become necessary.

  15. On April 30, 2016 at 2:47 pm, Billy Mullins said:

    In plain language “Not a damned thing.”

  16. On April 27, 2016 at 9:00 am, UNCLEELMO said:

    Does Barbara Bellis have a problem with Douglas County (CO) School District buying Bushmasters for their ‘security team’? Or is the sale of these weapons only a ‘negligent entrustment’ when sold to the public?
    In other words, are all people who work for the government trustworthy and private citizens not? I have a feeling that is her mindset.

  17. On April 27, 2016 at 9:13 am, TexTopCat said:

    Having the case tried in CT state courts will not allow for a just verdict. Eventually, the case will need to take the federal route before the law will be enforced against these misguided liberal people and hopefully they will be made to pay damages to the gun companies.

  18. On April 27, 2016 at 10:32 am, WarriorClass III said:

    There could be a positive outcome to this as well, if Remington’s attorneys do the proper discovery. There has to be first proof that someone was harmed, and so far the state has refused to release any death certificates. The FBI’s statistics never showed anyone killed in New Town CT for the time of this shooting, so there is a real question as to whether any shooting happened at all. It could get really interesting, and if this was an Obama scam for gun control, it will come out in discovery.

  19. On April 27, 2016 at 11:18 am, GomeznSA said:

    Yep – discovery does indeed work both ways. This has the potential to come back to bite the plaintiffs in the posterior (knowingly filing a frivolous lawsuit) as well as the CT state police for whatever truly did happen………………
    NOTE: I am not necessarily saying that nothing happened at the school but this suit could compel the release of exactly what did or did not happen.

  20. On April 27, 2016 at 11:45 am, Brennan Graves said:

    “…the gun Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook massacre was specifically marketed as a killing machine.”

    Pants-wetters.

    One and all.

    It’s a gun. Of course it’s dangerous. Lethal even.

    Get over it.

  21. On April 27, 2016 at 12:53 pm, Archer said:

    It’s a gun. Of course it’s dangerous. Lethal even.

    Yes, but it’s never marketed that way. Glocks tout their “safe action”, and gun makers of all flavors talk accuracy and reliability, not lethality and/or its ability to kill. Even in the ads that picture a woman in a dark room clutching a phone and gun, highlighting self- and home-defense, the text doesn’t mention killing the intruder; instead, the ad talks about reliability and ease-of-use in a high-stress moment.

    Besides, like I said elsewhere on this thread, Adam Lanza did NOT purchase the gun, so it’s a stretch (at best) to try to argue how the marketing matters one bit.

  22. On April 28, 2016 at 1:16 pm, Brennan Graves said:

    Yeah, who gives a shit?

    Pants-wetters, that’s who.

    This world is about to implode, and only Darwin wins for outcomes when that goes down.

    A relief, I suppose.

  23. On April 28, 2016 at 1:39 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I believe what Archer is doing is framing the case for the defense. It seems to me he did a fairly good job if they are listening they can take advantage of it.

  24. On April 27, 2016 at 12:42 pm, Archer said:

    America Is About To See How Guns Used In Mass Shootings Are Marketed

    The parts of America that don’t already know how guns are marketed are about to be very disappointed and/or bored. This isn’t like the Joe Camel cartoons that (arguably) are appealing to children; there’s not going to be a clearly-defined smoking gun (pun intended).

    What’s going to be revealed is e-mails to distributors announcing new products that fire accurately and reliably (because that’s what consumers want in firearms) or to well-published gun writers offering to loan (not give) T&E models, wall posters and magazine ads depicting the gun being held by tough-looking men or attractive women (or just the gun itself, no eye candy), etc. Nothing exciting, no “This is the deadliest weapon ever devised!” rhetoric. And that’s assuming the communications with distributors and dealers are even allowed in (the discovery order specifically said “marketed to civilians”, didn’t it?).

    That’s because she and her co-council have constructed a creative PLCAA
    exemption, claiming, in essence, that the gun Adam Lanza used in the
    Sandy Hook massacre was specifically marketed as a killing machine.

    And they’ll be disappointed yet again. How Adam Lanza perceived the marketing means shockingly little, because as we are well aware, Adam Lanza did not purchase the gun. His mother did, so unless they can prove that she bought it as a result of being marketed as a killing machine (as opposed to an affordable target rifle), or that he selected that particular rifle for his heinous act due to “killing machine” marketing that doesn’t exist (as opposed to picking from whatever guns he had available), the “negligence” claim will rightfully fail.

    If there is justice in this world, Remington will not only prevail; they will counter-sue and collect damages for libel and defamation. Not from the parents, but from CSGV/Brady/Everytown/whoever is pushing the parents into this case and covering the legal bills.

  25. On May 2, 2016 at 11:19 am, Toastrider said:

    IIRC, the couple that sued LuckyGunner got hung out to dry by the Everytown scum when they lost the suit and had to pay court & attorney’s fees. Don’t expect the gun-confiscation groups backing the families to change that tactic anytime soon.

  26. On May 2, 2016 at 12:59 pm, Archer said:

    I believe you’re correct; Everytown was there for moral support, but turned tail and disavowed the couple once the bill came due. To say they are scum is to give scum a bad name.

    And no, they won’t change that tactic (else they’d be completely bankrupt after a mere one or two losses), but I believe it will backfire spectacularly once word gets around that: 1. Suing gun and ammo manufacturers is a losing game, and 2. The gun control groups (Everytown, Brady, etc.) pushing you to sue won’t have your back financially; they will see their reputations deservedly dragged through the mud and will find an equally deserved shortage of willing plaintiffs.

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7)

  27. On April 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm, Herman Nelson said:

    This is all about one thing- money. A simple google of Katie Mesner-Hage turns up multiple cases of shyster lawyer ambulance chasing. It’s not about the kids or their families, it’s all about the money. If cars were were treated the same way as firearms, the peasants would be revolting.

  28. On April 27, 2016 at 5:05 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Well, this is all a huge shocker. The judge is a communist, the lawyer a crooked shyster, the parents all confused by what they were taught in public education, and the politicians complicit in it all. Who’d a thunk it?

  29. On April 28, 2016 at 10:02 am, GomeznSA said:

    More likely that all of us peasants would be walking because the additional cost of all of the mandated safety features and the additional insurance for those beasts would have priced them out of reach for all but the extremely wealthy.
    Think not? Just look at all of the extra taxes and fees that are already in existence for guns and all the additional proposals for even more onerous ones, like say a dollar per round among others. Factor that sort of legalist mentality onto cars and one can see what the ultimate goal is: CONTROL plain and simple. Period.

  30. On April 28, 2016 at 10:21 am, Frank Clarke said:

    I don’t understand…. Are you suggesting the peasants are NOT revolting? ;-

  31. On April 28, 2016 at 9:14 am, Blake said:

    Just remember, even though the case has no merit and will very well lose, the gun grabbers are ecstatic, because the case was allowed to go forward, rather than being tossed immediately, like it should have been. Once a case that should have been tossed is allowed to go forward, it infects the judicial system like a virus and these cases will be used to move the anti-gun agenda forward inch-by-inch.

    The state has unlimited resources and uses the process as the punishment. Putting a gun maker out of business is a win as far as these people are concerned.

  32. On April 28, 2016 at 9:49 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Yes. ^|^ THIS ^|^

  33. On April 28, 2016 at 4:12 pm, steve618 said:

    No one has standing to sue here because there were no victims. It’s simply astonishing how many people still believe anyone actually died at Sandy Hook. People, please do some basic research into the incident before you simply accept the whole premise the MSM has fed the gullible public.

    Any competent attorney could handle this during the discovery phase. Force these despicable people to testify under oath, or present sworn affidavits, and it’s over. They won’t do it for fear of being caught perjuring themselves.

  34. On April 29, 2016 at 1:02 am, Hurri Cane said:

    Totally unscientific research follows, correct me if i am wrong. I grabbed the 1st gun magazine i could find in my house, it’s Guns & Ammo for August 2015. There are zero ads for Bushmaster. There are 7 ads for AR style rifles:Daniel Defense DDM4V11 Pro, LWRC, RRA LAR-15 IRS MID, S&W M&P 15 Sport, Stag Arms 9T, Mk 47 Mutant, and Windham’s .300 Blackout. There are 4 for “assault weapons,” Styer AUG, DSA FAL, POF USA Puritan, and the M1A (that’s not an “assault weapon”) with precision adjustable stock (now it is!). None of these ads use the word “kill”. None of them showed anyone getting shot. None of them showed a silhouette target getting shot. Some showed people wielding the weapon, some just showed the gun, the S&W ad showed watermelon getting shot (“Dat’s raciss!”). The most aggressive thing anyone could find for any “assault weapon” ever is probably a para-military guy pointing the gun at the camera. If Katherine Mesner-Hage pulls out that almost 100 year old Thompson Sub Machine gun ad showing a cowboy shooting at rustlers, she’s grasping at straws, and that ad is about the exact opposite of what Sandy Hook Shooter (i’m not using his real name) was doing. An .88 Magnum that shoots through schools is a prop in a comedy. “Passionate Gun Love” is not a real publication, it’s a gag from Mad Magazine. Steven Crowder told gun dealers he was looking for a gun to shoot preschoolers and they looked at him like he was crazy. Sandy Hook Shooter would have run down little kids in the crosswalk if he couldn’t find a gun. Lucky Gunner and CTD walked. This whole pile of buffalo chips is going to get thrown out or found in favor of the defendant, but Big Green is still on the hook for the fees, which was the whole scheme in the first place. Side Note:In this same issue of G&A, there’s a 2 page ad for Harbor Freight. I could probably kill someone with everything in that ad, but nobody’s suing Harbor Freight…and i’d pick the $9.99 1/2″ drive torque wrench ha ha ha

  35. On April 29, 2016 at 2:47 am, jakee308 said:

    Too bad we can’t do some discovery of the groups of gun grabbers and find out if they specifically created rules that will tempt the insane and ragefull to certain locations because they’ve been labeled “Gun Free”. Hoping that the larger and more often mass murders happen that the more likely an amendment to abolish the 2nd Amendment could be passed.

    I sincerely believe that many of these people secretly crow with glee when one happens as they believe they’re one more incident closer to disarming this nation and allowing the tyrants and demagogues free reign.

  36. On April 29, 2016 at 10:50 am, Advo said:

    As the saying goes, I am not a lawyer, but pushing the intent of the PLCAA for discovery where the plaintiff’s lawyer admits that they don’t know what they are looking for sounds to me a lot like a search warrant allowing police to look for “stuff”. Discovery, like a search warrant, should be pretty tightly focused lest it be used as a extra-legal bludgeon.
    I think I just found my own answer.

  37. On April 29, 2016 at 11:28 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Yes. This.

  38. On April 29, 2016 at 1:26 pm, m a said:

    Good point about the car manufacturers and one I’ve been thinking about since hearing about the girl taking selfies in a Mercedes at 100+ and her victim suing snap-chat.

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