BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CN) - Finding that federal law shields gunmakers from most civil liability, a judge on Friday ruled against Connecticut families who lost loved ones at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Judge Barbara Bellis with the Bridgeport Superior Court granted the motion to strike filed by Remington Arms, which manufactured the AR-15 style Bushmaster rifle that a gunman used in 2012 to kill 20 first-graders and six adults.
The court's 54-page decision says there are few exceptions to the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, passed by Congress in 2005, and that the plaintiffs here failed to meet them.
"Although PLCAA provides a narrow exception under which plaintiffs may maintain an action for negligent entrustment of a firearm, the allegations in the present case do not fit within the common-law tort of negligent entrustment under well-established Connecticut law, nor do they come within PLCAA's definition of negligent entrustment," Bellis wrote.
"Furthermore, the plaintiffs cannot avail themselves of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) to bring this action within PLCAA's exception allowing lawsuits for violation of a state statute applicable to the sale or marketing of firearms. A plaintiff under CUTPA must allege some kind of consumer, competitor, or other commercial relationship with a defendant, and the plaintiffs here have alleged no such relationship," the ruling continues.
Donna Soto was the lead plaintiff in the case, joined by the families of eight others killed, plus one teacher who survived the 2012 attack.
Their attorney Josh Koskoff said the families are disappointed but are not ready to end the fight.
"We will appeal this decision immediately and continue our work to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening," Koskoff said in a statement.