“The parents of 10 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School have filed or soon will file notices in probate court that they plan to make wrongful death claims on their children’s behalf,” msn.com reports. This they’re doing as a prelude to suing Bushmaster, Newtown and/or the Newtown School Board and the estate of Nancy Lanza (the mother of spree killer Adam Lanza, murdered by her son before the attack). “The deadline to file civil lawsuits against the town of Newtown or the school board is Sunday, two years after the shooting. There are circumstances where a lawsuit against a private company, such as a gun manufacturer, could be filed within three years but . . .
that statute normally deals with product liability cases, which is not an issue here, according to several lawyers not involved with the case.”
It’s hard to see how the Sandy Hook parents could successfully sue Bushmaster, owned by The Freedom Group, owned by the multi-billion dollar private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. As smartgunlaws.com reports . . .
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a federal statute which provides broad immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers in federal and state court. Generally speaking, the PLCAA prohibits “qualified civil liability actions,” which are defined as civil or administrative proceedings which “result from the criminal or lawful misuse” of firearms or ammunition.
No matter how ill-fated or frivolous, a lawsuit against The Freedom Group/Cerberus on the heels of the anniversary of the Sandy Hook slaughter will cause no end of trouble for the Bushmaster folks.
Regular readers will recall that the California Teacher’s union called for Cerberus to sell The Freedom Group – or lose some $750 worth of CA teachers’ pension investments. Cerberus agreed and put the ailing conglomerate on the market. Nothing. Not even a nibble. Even as the post-Newtown surge filled the corporate coffers.
A media-friendly bloody shirt-waving lawsuit against Bushmaster would renew pressure on Cerberus to ditch TFG, both financially and socially (the Feinbergs and other Cerberus execs mix in a decidedly left-leaning social circle). Cerberus doesn’t like to walk away from a disaster – especially if American taxpayers can bail them out (e.g. Chrysler and Chrysler Financial). This time, I don’t think so.
At the same time, a civil lawsuit against Newtown and/or the Newtown School Board for “security issues at the school on the day of the massacre” could find purchase. The official reports into the killings were something of a whitewash, failing to identify key mistakes in the police response. And any light that can be shed on defective hard security or active shooter protocols would be most welcome.
We shall see. [h/t MC]