Attorney Josh Koskoff
Judge Barbara Bellis struck down the lawsuit filed by attorney Josh Koskoff, representing some of the families of the victims of Adam Lanza's attack at the Sand Hook School in Connecticut. The lawsuit was fired against gun manufacturers.
The Judge cited the PLCAA, Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, that forbids lawsuits of gun manufacturers, distributors, or sellers of lawful products that operate as they are designed to.
The purposes of the PLCAA are to expressly to prevent this sort of lawsuit, so as to insure that citizens shall have access to such firearms. From cornell.edu:
(b) Purposes The purposes of this chapter are as follows:
(1) To prohibit causes of action against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and their trade associations, for the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.
(2) To preserve a citizen’s access to a supply of firearms and ammunition for all lawful purposes, including hunting, self-defense, collecting, and competitive or recreational shooting.
(3) To guarantee a citizen’s rights, privileges, and immunities, as applied to the States, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, pursuant to section 5 of that Amendment.
(4) To prevent the use of such lawsuits to impose unreasonable burdens on interstate and foreign commerce.
(5) To protect the right, under the First Amendment to the Constitution, of manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and trade associations, to speak freely, to assemble peaceably, and to petition the Government for a redress of their grievances.
(6) To preserve and protect the Separation of Powers doctrine and important principles of federalism, State sovereignty and comity between sister States.
(7) To exercise congressional power under article IV, section 1 (the Full Faith and Credit Clause) of the United States Constitution.
Josh Koskoff is quoted as saying he will appeal the decision. From wtnh.com:
“While the families are obviously disappointed with the judge’s decision, this is not the end of the fight. We will appeal this decision immediately and continue our work to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening.”
The lawsuit may put dollars in Koskoffs pockets, and increase his notariety, but it is unlikely to do anything to prevent crime. As Constitutional scholar and law school professor at UCLA, Adam Winkler, has noted, “assault weapon” bans are bad policy and bad politics. From the latimes.com:
It may seem like a victory for the forces of good to ban assault weapons, but such laws aren't the answer. Assault weapon bans are bad policy and bad politics.
An appeal will continue to pile up attorney's fees and court costs. Under the PLCAA, plaintiffs who lose are liable to pay the court costs and legal fees of the defendants.
This is precisely the type of emotional, abusive case that the PLAA was designed to prevent. The case has been dismissed, as predicted. The chances of a successful appeal are vanishingly small. The plaintiffs are likely to be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs and lawyers fees.
A similar case happened in Colorado where a couple who filed a lawsuit against Lucky Gunner in the Aurora Theater shooting, was required to pay the legal fees, amounting to $202,000 dollars. The award is under appeal.
I hope Josh Koskoff has informed his clients of their legal risk.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.