CHICAGO (CBS) – A lawsuit filed by survivors of the Highland Park July 4 parade shooting is based on a strategy brought by victims of a previous mass shooting.
The lawsuit claims that a gun shop, in conjunction with an online dealer, should not have sold the gun that was used in the shooting because of a ban on assault-style weapons in Highland Park and Highwood.
Attorneys said the strategy in this case mirrors one used in Connecticut, brought by families in the Sandy Hook massacre.
It's believed to be the largest payment by a gunmaker related to a mas shooting in history.
"Each one of these lawsuits develops good legal precedent," said Erin Davis, senior counsel at Brady Legal.
It was a $73 million settlement reached in February, between the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting victims, and Remington, the maker of the rifle use dot kill 20 first graders and six teachers.
"Certainly, the Sandy Hook case was wonderful precedent that added to the legal claims, the right legal theory and hopefully the impact that this lawsuit will have," Lefkowitz said.
But that case required some sophisticated legal maneuvering because of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a federal law used to defend gun makers from these kinds of lawsuits.
Which is why they went after Remington's marketing, arguing successfully that the company advertised its AR-15-style weapon to young men already at risk of violence, which is the same strategy the attorneys representing Highland Park victims will be using.
The plaintiffs pointed to Smith & Wesson's advertising, even their YouTube page for allegedly appealing to young men with "militaristic delusions attracted to using assault rifles like the M&P15 to effectively execute their violent fantasies."
Some of the firms involved in the Sandy Hook case are also on the legal team representing the Highland Park families.
"It's a very strong case," said Josh Koskoff, of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder in Hartford, Connecticut. "What Smith & Wesson engaged in was exactly the kind of marketing that we found to be unlawful in Connecticut and an exception to the so-called immunity. The conduct is terrible. They are marketing weapons of war to underage users, to young users for criminal uses, and so we expect to prevail in the Highland Park case as well."
Koskoff won the Sandy Hook settlement, and perhaps more importantly, the right to publicize discovery from that case, which will come in handy for the Highland Park case.
Both Smith & Wesson and Red Dot Arms have not responded to a request for comment.
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