I sympathize greatly with the parents and loved ones of the 27 murder victims who perished in the 2012 Newtown Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings at the hands of Adam Lanza a mentally demented human being. But let there be no mistake about this occurrence – his homicidal conduct was the sole proximate, i.e. legal cause of their horrible deaths.
Adam Lanza caused those deaths; he murdered those people. As it happened he did it with a gun, but he might just as well have committed the deed with a bomb, or a fire or with poison gas. It was solely his intent to kill and his homicidal conduct which proximately caused all the deaths. But for that intent and that conduct there would not have been any killing.
Those murders were not proximately, i.e. legally caused by the manufacturer of the gun any more than the manufacturer of gasoline would be considered a proximate legal causer had Lanza used that substance to accomplish his intended act. In short, the instrument of this crime was not a proximate legal cause of that crime.
Naturally, the loved ones of these victims want justice. Lanza committed suicide when the police arrived at the murder scene. That was their justice. No trial was necessary. The murderer is dead. But now the loved ones want money and Adam Lanza had no money. His mother, who purchased the gun legally, but neglected to keep it away from her demented son, had no money either, and Lanza murdered her too, albeit with a different gun.
The gun maker has money. The gun maker has deep pockets. There are lawyers out there who are willing to bring suit against entities with money and deep pockets even if those entities are not liable for the wrong because their conduct was not a proximate legal cause of the deaths.
The loved ones found attorneys who were willing to sue the gun maker. Their attorneys know full well that they ultimately cannot prove proximate cause in court. But they take the case anyway hoping that the gun maker will settle for a sum of money just to make the lawsuit go away.
The Plaintiff’s lawyers are suing Remington Arms, maker of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle that Lanza used to commit the crime. Defense lawyers for the manufacturer sought by motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that a federal law shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products, and Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act after determining such lawsuits were an abuse of the legal system.
But Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that the federal law might not apply in this case if the Plaintiffs can prove that the gun was a military weapon and should not have been sold to civilians. So she has allowed the lawsuit to go forward for now, advising the defense that they can bring another motion to dismiss later.
"We are thrilled that the gun companies' motion to dismiss was denied," declared a Plaintiff’s attorney. "The families look forward to continuing their fight in court."
Well, he might be thrilled now, but I predict he won’t be so thrilled later when the issue of whether there is sufficient evidence of proximate cause against the gun maker to allow a jury to consider the matter. There is not and therefore this case is destined to be dismissed. It’s a complete waste of time and money.
The murder’s intent and homicidal conduct was the sole proximate legal cause of those deaths. The gun maker was not a legal proximate cause.