Court rules gunmaker Remington can be sued over US massacre

In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo, firearms training unit Detective Barbara J. Mattson, of the Connecticut State Police, holds a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model used by Adam Lanza in the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting, during a hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
Updated 15 March 2019
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Court rules gunmaker Remington can be sued over US massacre

  • The attack just before Christmas in 2012 left 20 school children and six staffers dead
  • The gunman used a Remington-made Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle in the attack

NEW YORK: Connecticut’s supreme court ruled Thursday that US gunmaker Remington can be sued over the 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in which one of its weapons was used.
The attack just before Christmas left 20 school children and six staffers dead.
The 4-3 ruling by the state court raised hopes among the victims’ families of punishing the marketers of the powerful Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle used by the shooter, Adam Lanza.
It also sets a precedent that could lead to more lawsuits against manufacturers whose guns are used in mass shootings.
The ruling on Thursday overturned a lower court’s judgment rejecting the lawsuit, which charged that Remington Outdoor Co., arms distributor Camfour, and the Connecticut store which sold the gun used in the massacre could be held liable.
Lanza was a 20-year-old with known developmental disabilities who lived at home with his mother when he carried out the attack.
His mother, a gun enthusiast, had bought him the AR-15-style Bushmaster XM15-E2S semi-automatic rifle more than two years before the shooting. Lanza murdered his mother before assaulting the school, and killed himself afterward.
The lawsuit alleged that Remington and the other two defendants are culpable because they knowingly marketed a military grade weapon that is “grossly unsuited” for civilian use yet had become the gun most used in mass shootings.
A Washington Post database says there have been 162 mass shootings in the United States since 1966, but many of the deadliest incidents have occurred in the past few years.
The plaintiffs alleged that the gun was marketed immorally and unscrupulously, sold on its war-fighting capabilities to civilians who would never experience combat.
That included, they alleged, popularizing the AR-15 in combat and mass shooting-type situations through the type of violent video games that Lanza was known to play.
They specifically cited Remington’s marketing of high-capacity magazines, which have only combat utility, for use with the gun.
They noted that video games feature shooters using multiple high capacity magazines, and that Lanza attacked the school with ten 30-round magazines.
“Prior to December 14, 2012, assault rifles like the Bushmaster XM15-E2S had been used to kill in department stores and fast food chains, at offices and homecoming parties, on courthouse steps, and in schools,” the suit said.
“Despite the unreasonable risks associated with selling assault rifles under these circumstances, defendants continued to market, promote and sell AR-15s to consumers.”
The court ruled that, even though the US Congress passed a law in 2005 that explicitly immunized gunmakers when their products are used in crimes, Remington could still be sued on the grounds that its marketing violated Connecticut’s unfair trade practice laws.
Congress did not seek to fully protect gunmakers and dealers from practices that promote criminal conduct, the judges said in their ruling.
Hence, they said, “it falls to a jury to decide whether the promotional schemes alleged in the present case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet.”
David Wheeler, whose son Ben was one of the Sandy Hook victims, said “there’s a reason why this particular consumer product is the one that is used by people who want to inflict the most damage.”
There have been examples, “time and time again,” he said.
Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer who represented families at an earlier hearing, said the ruling shows that nobody is above the law — “even a gun company that is powerful... that’s politically connected.”
The group Connecticut Against Gun Violence said the state supreme court decision “will force the companies to reveal internal communications that they have fought to keep out of the public eye.”
 


Life in prison for 'evil' loner who kidnapped US teen, killed parents

In this March 27, 2019, file photo, Jake Patterson appears for a hearing at the Barron County Justice Center, in Barron, Wis. (AP)
Updated 6 min 42 sec ago
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Life in prison for 'evil' loner who kidnapped US teen, killed parents

  • Details of Jayme’s time in captivity have not been released, and no charges were brought by prosecutors in the county where she was held

BARRON, Wisconsin: A Wisconsin man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents after the girl told the judge she that wanted him “locked up forever” for trying to steal her.
Jake Patterson, 21, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of intentional homicide and one count of kidnapping. He admitted he broke into Jayme’s home in October, gunned down her parents, James and Denise Closs, made off with her and held her under a bed in his remote cabin for 88 days before she made a daring escape.
Jayme didn’t appear at Patterson’s sentencing hearing Friday, but a family attorney read her first public statements about her ordeal to Judge James Babler.
“He thought that he could own me but he was wrong. I was smarter,” the statement said. “I was brave and he was not. ... He thought he could make me like him, but he was wrong. ... For 88 days he tried to steal me and he didn’t care who he hurt or who he killed to do that. He should be locked up forever.”
The judge called Patterson the “embodiment of evil” before sentencing him to consecutive life sentences without the possibility of release on the homicide charges. He also ordered Patterson to serve 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision on the kidnapping count.
“There’s no doubt in my mind you’re one of the most dangerous men to ever walk on this planet,” Babler said.
Patterson sat shaking his head during most of the hearing. Offered a chance to speak, he said he would do anything to take back what he did.
“I would die,” he said. “I would do absolutely anything ... to bring them back. I don’t care about me. I’m just so sorry. That’s all.”
The judge read statements that Patterson wrote in jail in which he said he had succumbed to fantasies about keeping a young girl and torturing and controlling her. He started looking for an opportunity to kidnap someone, even deciding he might want to take multiple girls and kill multiple families, according to the statements. Jayme was the first girl he saw after these thoughts entered his mind, he said.
Patterson’s attorneys, Richard Jones and Charles Glynn, told the judge that Patterson was isolated and that he overreacted to loneliness. They asked for leniency for Patterson, noting that he had pleaded guilty to spare Jayme and her family from a trial.
According to a criminal complaint, Patterson was driving to work in October when he spotted Jayme getting on a school bus near her rural home outside Barron, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Minneapolis. He decided then that “she was the girl he was going to take.”
District Attorney Brian Wright told the judge that Patterson traveled to the Closs home on two separate occasions to kidnap her but turned back because of activity at her house.
He finally drove to the house during the early morning hours of Oct. 15 dressed in black and carrying his father’s shotgun. He shot James Closs through a window in the front door, blasted the lock and moved inside.
He found the bathroom door locked. He broke the door down and discovered Jayme and her mother clinging to each other in the bathtub. He tied Jayme up with tape, then shot Denise Closs in the head as she sat next to her daughter.
He dragged Jayme through her father’s blood and out to his car. He threw her in the trunk and drove her to his cabin in Gordon in Douglas County, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northeast of Barron.
He kept her trapped under a bed using totes filled with weights and hit her with a curtain rod, Wright said.
“He kept her in constant fear, threatening her, telling her things would get worse,” Wright said.
Jayme finally escaped on Jan. 10 while Patterson was away. She flagged down a neighbor, who found someone to call police. Patterson was arrested minutes later as he returned to the cabin.
Patterson was also ordered to register as a sex offender, which under Wisconsin law may be required both for an actual sex offense or an attempted sexual offense. Details of Jayme’s time in captivity have not been released, and no charges were brought by prosecutors in the county where she was held.