HARTFORD, Conn. -- A judge on Friday dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit by Newtown families against the maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, saying federal law shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.
State Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis granted a motion by Remington Arms to strike the lawsuit by the families of nine children and adults killed and a teacher who survived the attack on Dec. 14, 2012. A gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the school with a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle made by Remington.
The families were seeking to hold Remington accountable for selling what their lawyers called a semi-automatic rifle that is too dangerous for the public because it was designed as a military killing machine.
Bellis agreed with attorneys for Madison, North Carolina-based Remington that the lawsuit should be dismissed under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed by Congress in 2005, which shielded gun makers from liability when their firearms are used in crimes.
Lawyers for the families had argued that the lawsuit was allowed under an exception in the federal law that allows litigation against companies that know, or should know, that their weapons are likely to be used in a way that risks injury to others.
Bellis, who sits in Bridgeport, disagreed.
The families can ask Bellis to reconsider her ruling or try to file an amended lawsuit. Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the families, didn’t immediately return a message Friday.
Jonathan Whitcomb, an attorney for Remington Arms, declined to comment.
Besides Remington, other defendants in the lawsuit include firearms distributor Camfour and Riverview Gun Sales, the now-closed East Windsor store where the Newtown gunman’s mother legally bought the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle used in the shooting.
Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother to death at their Newtown home before driving to the school, where he killed 26 other people. He killed himself as police arrived.