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First Victory For Newtown Families In Wrongful Death Suit Against Gun Maker

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A wrongful death lawsuit filed against gun maker Remington by families of some Newtown school massacre victims has been sent from federal court back to state court, where it may have a better chance of succeeding.

U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny in Hartford returned the case to state court on Wednesday _ a decision called an important victory by the families' lawyers. Federal courts have consistently refused to hold gun manufacturers liable or permit lawsuits against gun manufacturers for injuries caused by third parties.

The families allege in the lawsuit that Remington's Bushmaster AR-15, the rifle used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, is too dangerous to sell to the general public. Remington disputes the claims. The families of nine children and adults killed and one survivor are suing.

In addition to Remington, the defendants include firearm distributor Camfour, based in Westfield, Massachusetts, and Riverview Gun Sales, the East Windsor store where gunman Adam Lanza's mother legally purchased the Bushmaster rifle in 2010.

Remington, based in Madison, North Carolina, moved the lawsuit to federal court shortly after the families filed it in state court in January, saying Riverview shouldn't have been named as a defendant. Removing Riverview from the lawsuit would mean none of the defendants are from Connecticut, and therefore federal court was more appropriate, Remington's lawyers argued.

Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the families, called the judge's ruling "a major setback for the gun industry in their attempt to avoid responsibility for tragedies like Newtown.''

"All my clients seek is an opportunity to present their case to a Connecticut jury," Koskoff said. "This ruling brings them one step closer to that goal."

Lawyers for Remington didn't return messages seeking comment Thursday morning.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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