Amicus Curiae in Sandy Hook Families’ Action Against Gun Companies

March 14, 2019

Cleary Gottlieb represented Trinity Church Wall Street, as amicus curiae, in an action filed by the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims against certain gun companies.

In March 2017, Cleary submitted an amicus brief on behalf of Trinity Church Wall Street in support of appellants in Soto v. Bushmaster, an appeal in the Connecticut Supreme Court seeking to reverse the trial court’s dismissal of an action against the manufacturer, distributer, and retailer of the assault rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The case was brought by the parents of nine of the twenty-six victims of the December 2012 mass shooting.

On March 14, 2019, in a four-to-three decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the lower court and held that the plaintiffs could bring suit under the state’s unfair trade practices law. The majority accepted the theory that the militaristic marketing for assault rifles like the one used in the Sandy Hook massacre could provide a basis for violation of the state’s consumer unfair trade practices statute due to its propensity to increase sales to violent users and that such a claim would satisfy the exemptions in the federal statute generally barring civil liability claims against firearm manufacturers, distributers, and dealers. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.