The families of nine victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings are viewing Tuesday’s bankruptcy filing by Remington Arms Co. as an attempt to shield the company from their pending lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court.
The families are suing the company which manufactured the AR-15 rifle used in the shooting that killed 20 children and six adult educators, on the grounds the weapon was irresponsibly marketed to the public.
Remington Arms filed for federal bankruptcy protection Monday for the second time in less than two years. The company made it clear in the 2018 bankruptcy filing that the lawsuit would “remain intact” at the end of the proceedings, according to attorneys handling the lawsuit.
But Tuesday’s filing made in federal court in Alabama, “fails to preserve the families’ legal claims against it,” said Attorney Joshua Koskoff, of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder who represents the families. “The failure to carve out the ongoing court case is seen by the families as an attempt to abruptly end the litigation.”
Attorneys for the company said in a notice filed in state court Tuesday that the lawsuit proceedings are “stayed,” according to federal bankruptcy law.
The families are now calling on the company’s major stakeholders, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Franklin Templeton Investments, to exclude the lawsuit from the bankruptcy proceedings.
“Nearly eight years after my sweet little Daniel, along with six adult educators and 19 other first graders were murdered in their classrooms, Remington must not be permitted to use its bankruptcy filing to dodge responsibility,” said Mark Barden, whose son was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings. “We call on JPMorgan and other corporate owners to do the right thing: Leave our case intact so that we can shed light on Remington’s reckless decisions to help ensure that your family doesn’t have to endure the never-ending heartache of losing your child to preventable gun violence.”
Remington has bucked the lawsuit for six years with repeated attempts to get it dismissed, Koskoff said. Remington lost their appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court in November and the case is now in discovery.
The bankruptcy filing could stall the lawsuit, Koskoff said. But the families will take “all necessary legal action to prevent moneyed interests from denying” the pursuit of the facts of the company’s conduct “that prioritizes their profits over public safety,” Koskoff said.
The families contend in the lawsuit that the AR-15 was originally manufactured as a military weapon but later was marketed and sold to the public. While the high-power gun has become a “valuable law enforcement weapon,” it has “no utility for legitimate civilian purposes” other than mass shootings, the lawsuit said.
“Time and time again, mentally unstable individuals and criminals have acquired an AR-15 with ease, and they have unleashed the rifle’s lethal power into our streets, our malls, our places of worship and our schools,” the lawsuit said.
Jury selection was slated to start in September of 2021, according to Judicial Branch records.