Newtown Rejects Settlement Offer in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Stop Sign with Bullet Holes

The town of Newtown, Connecticut has rejected an offer from two Sandy Hook parents to settle the lawsuit over the 2012 elementary school shooting.

The estates of 6-year-olds Noah Pozner and Jesse Lewis offered to settle their pending wrongful death suit for $11 million. The town had 30 days to accept the offer and it let the deadline pass.

The Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Attorney for the families, Donald Papcsy, had previously stated, “We are hopeful that the town of Newtown's elected and hired representatives will work with these families, who have already suffered, and continue to suffer unimaginable loss, to help resolve this matter in the most efficient and constructive way possible.”

The lawsuit alleged that the security measures at the school were inadequate when Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 first-graders and 6 teachers. The lawsuit claims that “They failed to provide a security guard or any other type of law enforcement personnel to assist in the implementation of the policies and procedures should an intruder enter the building, while leaving a large enough non-safety glass window directly to the right of the locked outer doors of the school, making access to the building relatively simple, and [making] successful lockdown of the building virtually impossible.”

Because the offer to settle has been rejected, if the plaintiffs win and recover more than the $11 million that was offered, they will receive an additional 8 percent interest on the total verdict amount. The $11 million settlement offer represents the maximum amount the parties could recover under the town’s insurance coverage.

Initial jury selection for the trial is scheduled for August 1, 2017.

Other Sandy Hook Lawsuits

This is one of three lawsuits that were filed as a result of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

One of the other two suits settled in December 2015. In that suit, 16 of the victims’ families each received $93,750 from the estate of Lanza’s mother.  That suit alleged that Nancy Lanza was careless in leaving a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle unsecured in her home and that she “knew or should have known that [Adam Lanza's] mental and emotional condition made him a danger to others.”

In the other suit that is still pending, families of nine of the victims are suing the gun manufacturer, Remington. The lawsuit claims that a military assault rifle such as the Bushmaster, which can fire up to 30 rounds a minute, should not be entrusted to the general public. The families allege that Remington uses military language in its marketing to appeal to those who want to commit mass murder. 

This lawsuit faces a legal hurdle known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers against lawsuits of this type. However, plaintiffs are arguing negligent entrustment, where a party is held liable for negligence for entrusting a party with something dangerous which that person uses to cause injury to another party. They argue that Remington knows that “as a result of selling AR-15s to the civilian market, individuals unfit to operate these weapons gain access to them.”

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