The lawsuit initiated against Remington in the wake of Sandy Hook is concerning. The last thing the Second Amendment needs is to see the cost of exercising our right to keep and bear arms skyrocket because some people want to blame the tool rather than the tool using it.
As a result of that lawsuit, though, there’s a lot of legal maneuvering and both sides are asking for information that may not seem particularly relevant.
However, the media is in a bit of a hissy about what attorneys are asking for now.
The gun maker being sued by families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook shooting is seeking school records for some of the first-graders killed in the massacre, court filings show.
It’s the latest affront to the families as the landmark wrongful death lawsuit heads to a jury trial slated for later this year or early 2022, their attorney says.
Remington has filed subpoenas to obtain report cards, attendance lists and other academic records for five of the students who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012. A total of 20 children and six faculty members were killed.
The nation’s oldest gun manufacturer also asked the Newtown Public School District to provide employment files of four educators who died in the shooting. The five students and four educators are part of a long-running wrongful death suit against Remington over its marketing practices.
I’m not going to lie, this looks really, really awful for Remington except for two things.
See, the first is buried a bit after all of this in the same story:
A legal source familiar with the case, who was not authorized to speak about the pending litigation, told TIME that it is routine in wrongful death lawsuits for the defense team to subpoena education and medical records to determine damages.
“It may sound crass,” the source says, “but at the end of the day, the jury is asked to put a dollar number on the decedent’s life.” Employment files that show salaries, for example, help determine that figure. And while a report card from kindergarten might not, the source says those files, while lower-level, are part of the overall procedure to gather every piece of information.
In other words, this isn’t unusual.
Of course, there are those who want to blast Remington for this anyway. After all, they’re the evil gun maker and now they’re prying into the lives and histories of the victims? I mean, I’m pro-gun and find the lawsuit itself to be wrongheaded and even I think this feels a little skeevy, but that’s why this is being reported.
All of the other legal maneuvers and requests aren’t being talked about at all. That’s because they won’t spur on outrage. This will. It’ll also make Remington look like the bad guys.
Except for point two. You see, it’s not really Remington doing this.
In 2016, a state Superior Court judge agreed that Remington was protected under a federal law that shields the gun industry from most liability when its products are misused. In 2019, the state Supreme Court ruled the families had grounds to pursue an unlawful marketing claim under Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. Later that year, the United States Supreme Court sent the case back to trial court by refusing to review it.
Since them, Remington has been dissolved in bankruptcy court, and four insurance companies have taken over the former company’s defense.
That’s right. The Remington name lives on, but the company itself doesn’t exist. When you see Remington as a Vista Outdoor brand, it’s not the Remington making this request.
Instead, this is a completely different entity.
Funny how that gets left out of a lot of the discussion. Then again, that’s intentional. After all, when you’re trying to demonize the firearm industry, you can’t really do that by being upfront and admitting the evil gun company you’re accusing of being even more evil doesn’t actually exist anymore.
Either way, it’s important to remember that attorneys in lawsuits ask for tons of information, often information that ends up being of little use to them. It’s part of how lawsuits work, and the attorneys raising a stink about this know that. They also know the general public is unaware of it and it’s yet another way to paint the defendants as the bad guys.
This is as much a PR stunt as it is lawfare against the firearm industry.