Litigation

Judge Rejects Lawsuit Blaming Gun Sellers for Sandy Hook Massacre

The case founders on its extravagant definition of negligent entrustment.

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Connecticut State Police

Last Friday a state judge dismissed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor, and dealer who supplied the rifle used in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that the lawsuit, which was brought by the families of nine people murdered at the school, plus a survivor of the attack, is precluded by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a federal law that protects gun makers and dealers from liability for criminal use of their products. Bellis rejected the plaintiffs' argument that the defendants' distribution of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S to the general population amounted to "negligent entrustment," an exception to the shield created by PLCAA.

Under Connecticut common law, Bellis notes in her 54-page decision, negligent entrustment can be proven only by showing that the defendant knew or should have known that the person to whom he transferred a potentially dangerous item was apt to use it in a way that posed a risk to others. That did not happen in this case, since the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook massacre, Adam Lanza, took the rifle from his mother, who legally purchased it from a Connecticut gun dealer. Neither the retailer, the distributor, nor the manufacturer had any reason to know how the rifle would ultimately be used by Lanza.

The plaintiffs urged Bellis to accept a much broader understanding of negligent entrustment, arguing that it occurs when businesses sell military-style rifles to civilian buyers, knowing that some of those weapons will be used to commit violent crimes. According to the lawsuit, "assult weapons" like the Bushmaster XM15-E2S are not appropriate for the civilian market, so the general population constitutes a class of entrustees prone to dangerously misuse these products. Bellis did not buy it:

The court does not agree with the plaintiffs' assertion that the common law recognizes a class as broad as civilians to support a claim of negligent entrustment….

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants' entrustment of the firearm to respective entrustees was negligent because the defendants could each foresee the firearm ending up in the hands of members of an incompetent class in a dangerous environment. The validity of this argument rests on labeling as a misuse the sale of a legal product to a population that is lawfully entitled to purchase such a product….To extend the theory of negligent entrustment to the class of nonmilitary, nonpolice civilians—the general public—would imply that the general public lacks the ordinary prudence necessary to handle an object that Congress regards as appropriate for sale to the general public. This the court is unwilling to do.

Bellis notes that PLCAA's definition of negligent entrustment, which determines the extent of the law's exception, is narrower than Connecticut's. The federal law defines negligent entrustment as "the supplying of a qualified product by a seller for use by another person when the seller knows, or reasonably should know, the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or others." That definition, Bellis concludes based on the text and history of the law, applies only to direct transfers of guns to people who misuse them. Hence even if a negligent entrustment claim were valid under state law in this case, it would not be valid under federal law.

In addition to their negligent entrustment claim, the plaintiffs argued that their suit is permitted under a PLCAA exception for gun sellers who violate state law. Bellis rejected their argument that sale of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, concluding that the law requires a commercial relationship between plaintiff and defendant.

Joshua Koskoff, the plaintiffs' attorney, says he will appeal Bellis's decision, but it seems unlikely that his extravagant definition of negligent entrustment will find a more receptive audience in higher courts. No doubt critics of PLCAA such as Hillary Clinton will cite the difficulty of pursuing such claims as further evidence that the law undermines justice. Yet there is no justice in holding gun sellers responsible for crimes they have no way of preventing, except by going out of business altogether.

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113 responses to “Judge Rejects Lawsuit Blaming Gun Sellers for Sandy Hook Massacre

  1. Of course Judge Bellis didn’t buy it. Her last name means “war”! A war on humanity via the wicked Bushmaster.

    1. Bellum is neuter meaning war.

      Bellis could be war in the ablative or dative plural.

      Bellis could also be a different word for beautiful in the ablative or dative plural.

      It’s the difference between the “antebellum” South and a Southern “belle”.

      1. SEE!!!1111!! Her name means beautiful war!!!111!!!

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        2. My Co-Worker’s step-sister made $14285 the previous week. She gets paid on the laptop and moved in a $557000 condo. All she did was get blessed and apply the guide leaked on this web site. Browse this site….
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          1. http://www.plusaf.com/homepage…..e-tree.jpg

            Posting twice won’t make your post any more believable or intelligent…

            Now, fuck off… again.

        3. By, with, from, to, for, wars.

          By, with, from, to, for, beauties.

          More likely it was the object of a word that takes either the dative or ablative. For instance, “in” means inside something if it’s paired with an ablative, but it means on top of something if it’s paired with a word in the accusative.

          “beautiful war” would require two words. But pulchra belli wouldn’t be so confusing. The “i” at the end of bellum is either masculine or neuter, so the “a” in pulchra can’t be feminine.

          Often the nominative and the accusative have the same endings in masculine and neuter however, and that can be confusing. There’s a famous story about a general going to the oracle at Delphi and asking whether he’ll win the war. The oracle’s answers is given in such a way, that you can’t tell what the subject is and what the object is. It could be, “I see you conquering your enemies” or it could be, “I see your enemies conquering you”. Hilarity ensued.

          Making things rhyme in Latin is too easy that way. Not only can you change the case of a word to match another, word order is irrelevant to meaning, so you don’t have to match the word at the end of the sentence, you can match it to any word in the sentence, and put the matched word at the end.

          They’d actually use word order to paint pictures sometimes. If the hero is between a rock and a bush, they’d insert the word “hero” between the words “rock” and “bush” in the sentence.

          . . . but I digress.

        1. What have they ever done for us?!

          1. The aqueduct ?

            1. Other than the aqueduct, what have the Romans ever done for us?

              1. The alphabet? (Although the Arabs have better numbers)

              2. Inspiring toga parties?

  2. That did not happen in this case, since the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook massacre, Adam Lanza, took the rifle from his mother, who legally purchased it from a Connecticut gun dealer.

    Let me fix this for you:

    That did not happen in this case, since the rifle had been sold lawfully to Nancy Lanza by a Connecticut gun dealer, and the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook massacre, Adam Lanza, stole the rilfe and murdered her with it.

    1. Actually, he had or stole a different rifle, killed her with that, and then stole the bushmaster when she was dead.

    1. After another week of Clinton-related emails roiling this election

      Yeah, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

    2. Of course, Assange’s claim that a political party leaks in direct proportion to its dishonesty looks almost laughable after the last several months. WikiLeaks has published leaks exclusively damaging to Clinton and the Democratic Party, while publishing nothing from Donald Trump or his campaign.

      Ahhh, the tone of the article is beginning to come through.

      The notion in Assange’s essay that only corrupt conspiracies keep secrets is one that Clinton herself has argued against?ironically, something we know because she said it in a speech whose partial transcript WikiLeaks leaked last Friday. Speaking to the National Multi-Housing Council in 2013, Clinton cited how President Lincoln secretly promised jobs to lame duck Congressmen of the opposing political party if they agreed to vote for the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery. “If everybody’s watching all of the backroom discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least,” she said. “So, you need both a public and a private position.”

      Ok. So Julian Assange could have stopped the liberation of the slaves.

      1. “…Speaking to the National Multi-Housing Council in 2013, Clinton cited how President Lincoln secretly promised jobs to lame duck Congressmen of the opposing political party if they agreed to vote for the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery. “If everybody’s watching all of the backroom discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least,” she said. “So, you need both a public and a private position.”…”

        Man, those straws are getting really skinny…

      2. “while publishing nothing from Donald Trump or his campaign.”

        That’s probably ’cause nothing horrible the Don does requires a leak to become public.

        1. Pretty much exactly this. Plus, for fuck’s sake, Donald wasn’t one of the most powerful people in the United States Government attempting to topple foreign governments while taking donations from others, and doing it all on a private email server shielded from FOIA requests.

          1. Yeah, but he talked about grabbing women by their pussies.

          2. probably helps that Trump hasn’t murdered any of Assange’s sources yet.

      3. Also, that assumes that Wikileaks has total access to all information everywhere. Perhaps the other people simply secured their information better. Perhaps the people whose information was leaked did something to piss off the people doing the leaking.

        1. “Let’s see here, we have this person over here was involved in toppling a couple of foreign governments– oh and she’s taking donations from them, and this email came from an illegal server.”

          *puts stack of documents down*

          “Now!” *clears throat* “Here’s an email from this person who made… well, some down right icky comments about a beauty pageant, and here’s another one where he brags about being able to get away with sexytime stuff because of celebrity status. Let’s go with #2 on tonight’s broadcast!”

        2. Exactly. You can’t leak what you don’t have.

          The article also complains that foreign governments might use Wikileaks to push a position. A disingenuous position, to be sure. If the leak is legitimate, it does not matter one whit where it came from or what their motivations were. A truth told by your enemy is still the truth. In a world where secrets are being used regularly to shape the lives of people, anyone who leaks those secrets is going to be an enemy to someone.

        3. that assumes that Wikileaks has total access to all information everywhere

          Considering most journalists views on how computers/ hacking actually works is probably about as retarded as Hollywood’s it wouldn’t surprise me if they really believe this.

          1. Wait, furious keyboard typing isn’t how systems are breached? Man, I know for a fact that furious keyboard typing was required to keep an image moving on the screen, though. Right?

            1. Actually our latest mass action required us to walk away from the machine it was running on because most of the system resources were being used up. Furious typing would actually cause harm to the process.

  3. “negligent entrustment,”

    Man, that would have been an ugly precedent. “We are all little children, you shouldn’t trust us with such dangerous things”.

    1. “general public lacks the ordinary prudence necessary to handle an object that Congress regards as appropriate for sale to the general public”

      Heh

      1. Well, obviously!

        I mean, it’s military style, making it totally different from more powerful “not military-style” self-loading rifles!

        (I wonder what’ll happen when these people discover the AR-10 or G3?)

      2. Had to put that wiggly congress language in there.

    2. don’t run with scissors. lets sue the scissor manufactures because somewhere at sometime a child will run with them and stab themselves. truly negligent entrustment by the scissor manufactures.

  4. The progs still have a sore ass over this one. This was THE event, the one surely sent down by the proggie gods that was going to finally end that pesky 2nd amendment. They had a pile of children’s bodies, their dream was delivered on a silver platter. They joyfully LEAPED upon that pile and proclaimed victory, only to have it snatched away from them. Delicious proggie tears continue to fill my collection barrels.

    1. ^This. So much this.

    2. They joyfully LEAPED upon that pile and proclaimed victory, only to have it snatched away from them.

      Hey, the coroners were just doing their jobs. You can’t just leave a pile of dead children laying around to be used as some kind of macabre soap box forever.

  5. In all seriousness, this is one of the best pieces of news of the year.

    1. Good news is few and far between and that trend is increasing.

    2. Good news, as in “Common Sense Hanging On To Life In Some Corners Of The Country”

      1. Chip, “common sense hanging on to life…” was my first reaction to the headline.
        My second reaction was to forecast the last paragraph of the article with 100% accuracy… “… they will appeal…”
        Anti-gunners like them will never give up, despite tons of evidence and logic that makes them look like fools.
        Sad…

  6. How anybody can support this ridiculous lawsuit I have no idea.

    1. More feels than thinks, of course.

      1. #Repeal19

        1. And yet, women were voting in Utah and in Wyoming since 1860 . . .hmmm – could it be because of FEDERALISM?

    2. Because if they win, they get the closure that comes with *someone* (aside from Adam Lanza and his mother, who are both already dead, and thus unable to be punished) being punished for this bad thing that happened to them. And a pile of money, which is always a nice thing to have. The lawyer gets a pile of money no matter what, so he’s certainly going to support it.

  7. are not appropriate for the civilian market

    Says you, jerk.

  8. Man, the proggies get their eyes on a boogy-man and no amount of logic is going to make them let go.

    1. They don’t need no stinkin logic, they got feelz!

      1. It’s like those stupid pierogis have never read Hume!

      2. Brilliant quote!

        I’m stealing this!!

  9. The families are moronic and being manipulated by viscous lawyers. Hillary is a fascist trying to suggest that suing arms manufacturers for what people do with their products should be allowed.

    Assault weapons are protected under the 2nd. It is actually an infringement that automatic weapons are so restricted. All firearms are appropriate for the civilian market. Hollywood just scared people and politicians took advantage of that to ban/restrict FA, Burst, SBS, SBR and suppressors.

    1. Funny how Hillary likes guns so much when the goons around her 24/7 have them, or when she’s selling them to the ‘good’ terrorists fighting against the bad terrorists.

    2. The families are moronic and being manipulated by viscous lawyers. Hillary is a fascist trying to suggest that suing arms manufacturers for what people do with their products should be allowed.

      And she’s 100% consistent with her husbands (and the Democrats’) position in the 90s. 100%.

    3. I hate viscous lawyers. Always leave you reaching for a Kleenex after you shake their hand.

      1. Vicious lawyers are also bad, but I am mostly mad at the viscous ones.

    4. I’m not sure Hollywood is to blame for the National Firearms Act, which – note – originally attempted to also ban all handguns entirely, way back in ’34.

      I’d more blame moral panic over scary Prohibition-era gangsterism.

      (One might blame print media, perhaps.)

      1. True, more like a combination of factors.

        Not to mention the registry being closed for new FAs/Bursts was snuck in on the back of a “pro-gun” bill.

  10. Yet there is no justice in holding gun sellers responsible for crimes they have no way of preventing, except by going out of business altogether.

    Driving the gun manufacturers out of business is exactly the reason the progs are going down this path.

    1. ^So much this. The progs are doing the same thing with guns that socons are doing with abortion – realizing a full-frontal assault is impractical, they are chipping around the edges in every way they can.

    2. That or making bullets ridiculously expensive . (arms are not bullets, so you have no right to bullets) Or make everyone buying a gun purchase liability insurance too, making guns ridiculously expensive (you buy insurance for your car, don’t you?).

  11. military-style rifles

    Always get a laugh at how unintentionally accurate this description is, much like camo-imprinted thongs are “military-style beachwear,” and Marines-inspired crests adopted by militia groups are “military-style logos.” Terrifying!

    1. I wonder when it will pop up in these comments.

      1. Last night’s PM Lynx.

  12. There is no exact figure, but most recent estimate is that there are about 8 million AR 15s privately owned in this country.

    Even if you accept the broadest definition of criminal miss-use, let’s be generous and say 100 of them have fallen into this category over the past several years.

    Given that, .0000125% of all privately owned AR 15s have been “used to commit violent crimes,” which is the premise upon which their action is predicated.

    I certainly sympathize with the families of survivors of this heinous attack, but this kind of crap actually makes me hope they are financially ruined by the legal costs they incur as a result of this ridiculous suit.

    1. “criminal miss-use”

      Criminal female gangs are armed with ARs, oh noes! I’m building my bunker now.

      /pedantic

      1. Snarky fucker [and I mean that in the best possible way, Hyperion].

        Misuse and missuse are actually both acceptable. I took it a step further and hyphenated because that is just what I do. If Joyce can win a Nobel Prize for Lit and not even adhere to basic English punctuation, I figure little ole me can break a couple rules and claim it as original.

        Pedantic indeed

        1. Given the track record of the Nodel Prize for Literature… I don’t think it’s a qualified metric to claim something is ‘good’.

          1. Just a yardstick, such as it is.

    2. There is probably more of a case for them to sue their lawyers for negligence considering this case was utterly hopeless from the beginning because of PLCAA and the lawyers should have known this. I see a situation of predatory lawyers taking advantage of moronic but incredibly emotionally distraught parents. THAT should be the news story that the left should be pushing.

      1. Agreed. I’m curious what’s a lawyer’s culpability for fraudulently drawing plaintiffs into unwinnable fights hoping to settle out of court, only to get rebuffed and put their clients on the hook for legal costs. Seems like there should be some blowback, that’s a huge agent-principal problem.

        1. did the lawyers charge the families or was it pro bono or were they paid by outside groups?

          1. It is the cost of the defendant having to pay $$$$ to their attorneys to defend against this frivolous suit [otherwise they would lose by default] and associated court costs that is going to hit their pocket book.

    3. Sadly, American sympathy for common sense seems to stop well short of recouping legal costs, despite corporations being entitled to prize back some of the money wasted by vulture plaintiffs. See: the recent jury finding against Cinemark’s liability for the Holmes attack, after which Cinemark filed for legal fees. The popular response, you might imagine, was not sympathetic to Cinemark.

      1. Yes but Bushmaster (Remington) is already ‘unpopular’ so fuck them. These asshole don’t seem to be getting the message that my team is very interested in finish shit that team proggie starts. (I.e. Gawker, soon-to-be Rolling Stones, and most likely NYT)

  13. “assult weapons” like the Bushmaster XM15-E2S are not appropriate for the civilian market, so the general population constitutes a class of entrustees prone to dangerously misuse these products.

    Couple things\

    1. You misspelled ‘assault’

    2. Lanza shot his mother 4 times with a *bolt-action .22 rifle* to kill her. If you accept that ‘civilians’ (which, I remind everyone also includes ‘police’) are prone to dangerous misuse of the XM-15 (you don’t really need the ‘E2’ as that’s version number, not a model number) then you’re also saying that .22 rimfire firearms are also too dangerous to be in the hands of civilians.

    1. you’re also saying that .22 rimfire firearms are also too dangerous to be in the hands of civilians.

      That is their stance when you get down to it.

      1. Read an article recently [I do not recall the specific bullshit organization that published the pulp] that listed the Ruger 10-22 as one of the most popular “assault rifles.” Not sure if this is from just plain old ignorance [and there is plenty of that among most anti-gun groups, as far as the actual weapons are concerned] or a slip of the actual progressive agenda to ban pretty much everything.

    2. you don’t really need the ‘E2’ as that’s version number, not a model number

      But is it a scary black version with the bayonet lug and pistol grip?

      1. Actually, it’s a pink “Hello Kitty” variant.

      2. What about that shoulder thing that goes up? Did it have one of those too?

        1. No, but I’m pretty sure it had the “hangy down thing” [to quote the former Speaker of the House NP].

    3. It is hilarious to me that they’re suing on the basis that a class of people needs protection from themselves. Seriously, they described people as “entrustees” who can’t actually be entrusted with anything.

  14. Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)

    The fact that someone thought this law was needed is, in itself an abomination.

    a. Can a car manufacturer be held liable for selling a car to someone who uses it to kill people? How about Louisville Slugger?
    b. Why does/should the gun industry be any different?

    Making laws to protect a right that’s already covered by the Constitution, diminishes the validity of the Constitution and smacks of cronyism.

    Sad that it’s come to this.

    1. b. Why does/should the gun industry be any different?

      My honest guess is a gun is designed to hurt people and break things. So someone saw this might be a problem that could interfere with the second amendment. And looks like they were about correct.

      1. Not disagreeing, but to counter that position…

        A gun is designed to:

        Plink aluminum cans
        Hunt with
        Protect yourself from dangerous animals
        Deter acts of aggression…

        None of which hurt people. So the same could be said about a hammer. It is a multi-use tool, and one of its potential uses is to take a life.

        I could see an act protecting ALL industry from litigation if their product is used to commit a crime, but making it specific to guns gives the anti-gunners ammunition (pardon the pun).

        1. If I ever encounter the “guns are MADE for killing” argument, I usually just bring up bows and arrows. After all, bows and arrows have the exact same uses as guns: shooting inanimate targets, hunting animals, and protecting yourself.

          If guns should be banned because they allegedly have no purpose other than killing, recurve bows and crossbows should be illegal for the same reason.

    2. IIRC it was because leftie groups openly announced their intention to use such lawsuits to drive arms manufacturers into bankruptcy. Even if, prior to PLCAA, manufacturers would have won every lawsuit, the constant attacks would be ruinous. PLCAA was passed in response to some fairly open plans to use lawfare to destroy a legal industry.

  15. “Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that the lawsuit, which was brought by the families of nine people murdered at the school, plus a survivor of the attack, is precluded by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a federal law that protects gun makers and dealers from liability for criminal use of their products.”

    If I were on a jury, I’d vote against holding distributors or manufacturers liable for what people do with the products they sell anyway. When I see laws that protect people from liability for something except for under certain conditions, it almost seems like they’re making it so people can sue under those conditions–where they couldn’t before without that law.

    It’s like in basketball. Towards the end of the game, we start thinking about “fouls to give”. Once you make a rule against something, breaking the rule becomes part of the game.

    If Hazel hits me with a 2 X 4 she bought at Home Depot, I may not have had any standing to sue Home Depot before, but if I can persuade people that there’s an exception in a new law that protects Home Depot from such liability, suddenly I have standing to sue Home Depot I wouldn’t have had before–because of a law that was meant to limit Home Depot’s liability?

    Who would hold Home Depot accountable for what Hazel does with a 2 X 4 without that law?

    1. Hazel would only hit with a 2×4 you if you vote for Trump.

      1. I typed that like I just voted for Trump.

      2. Or if you voted for Clinton.

        Or Johnson.

        Or didn’t vote.

        Or voted.

        Or looked at her funny.

        Or didn’t look at her.

        1. What if I didn’t look at her not funny while not not voting for McMullin?

    2. The advantage here is ‘knowledge’. Sure, you may not have been able to sue before. Then again you might have been. So that law opens up a limited vulnerability while sealing up a whole bunch of others. Before they could have just kept shotgunning lawsuits at you until you caved/went broke. Now they only have a very limited angle to attack from and you know what that is and what you can do to defend yourself from liability.

      1. Isn’t that how we ended up with the commerce clause? It was an exception to the rule.

        Somehow, the exceptions to the rule have a way of becoming the rule.

  16. …there is no justice in holding gun sellers responsible for crimes they have no way of preventing, except by going out of business altogether.

    Which, of course, is exactly what these shitheels want.

  17. To extend the theory of negligent entrustment to the class of nonmilitary, nonpolice civilians?the general public?would imply that the general public lacks the ordinary prudence necessary to handle an object that Congress regards as appropriate for sale to the general public. This the court is unwilling to do.

    I can just picture it:

    Plaintiff: “Your honor, people are simply too stoopid to be armed!”
    Judge: “Ah, I don’t think that’s correct. if they’re too stoopid to be armed then they would be too stoopid to litigate and pretty much anything else, don’t you think?”
    Plaintiff: “Don’t talk to me about logic!!! Logic is a bourgeois concept!!!!”

    It is as if I was there myself.

    1. “Plaintiff: “Your honor, people are simply too stoopid to be armed!” “

      Why is it that socialists are full of hatred for the “lowest common denominator”, yet they get misty-eyed when lecturing us about how beautiful it will be when “The People” control everything through voting?

      It’s basically like saying, “The People are too stupid to make decisions for themselves, so we need The People to do it for them!”

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