Sunday, June 11

Sandy Hook families accept $73 million settlement from Remington, ending 7-year wrongful death lawsuit

TRUMBULL — Nine families who lost loved ones in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre accepted a $73 million settlement from the defunct gunmaker Remington, ending a seven-year wrongful death lawsuit that began as a long shot and became a landmark case.

The settlement, which came to light through a Tuesday court filing, was announced at a press conference later that morning at the Trumbull Marriott Shelton. There, Josh Koskoff, the families’ lead attorney, stood with representatives of all nine families and described when they approached him years ago.

“When the families came to me, they didn’t know what to do.” said Koskoff, who described each of the victims whose families were represented in the case and told memories their families had with them hours before the massacre. “But they had the energy, drive and motivation to do one thing and that was to do whatever they could so other families, whether they are in a suburb, a township, or a city, would not have to go through the kind of pain and loss that they had. That was an enormous and very solemn position to be in and be asked by these families. It was an obligation, but it was also an enormous privilege.”

As recently as July, the families rejected an offer by two of the bankrupted Remington’s four insurance companies of $3.6 million each.

The families sought to prove to a jury that the one-time gun-making giant had unlawfully marketed the AR-15-style rifle that a 20-year-old gunman used in the slaying. Remington, which declared bankruptcy twice and was sold off to competitors as the case moved toward trial, maintained that it manufactured a legal gun that was legally sold to the gunman’s mother, and that it was the gunman alone who was responsible for the worst crime in Connecticut history.

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Attorneys in Hartford and Chicago representing Remington’s insurance carriers did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday.

Tuesday’s settlement brings an end to a case that some experts believe had already changed the way insurance companies cover gunmakers. While a federal law remains in tact that protects the firearms industry from most liability when guns are misused, the families were able to preserve their suit on arguments that Remington “aggressively marketed the assaultive and militaristic capabilities of the weapon used in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre that left 20 first graders and six educators dead, purposefully appealing to the very kinds of people most likely to commit mass murder” in violation of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The Remington case has made national headlines not only for its potential to change the way gun companies are insured. Four insurers for Remington agreed to pay the full amount of coverage available, totaling $73 million, the plaintiffs said.

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