Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut
Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut (Photo: Ron Frank/Shutterstock.com)

Several emergency room doctors who’ve treated victims in the aftermath of mass shootings are throwing their weight behind a Connecticut appeal attempting to hold gunmakers Remington and Bushmaster liable for the Sandy Hook school shooting.

In an amicus brief filed by Michael Dell of Kramer Levin on Tuesday, 10 doctors claimed the Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, used in the Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colorado, and San Bernardino, California, massacres is a weapon of war that must be kept out of civilian hands. Five of the doctors treated victims in those shootings.

The brief was submitted as a companion to an appeal to the state Supreme Court filed by attorneys representing families of some of the 26 educators and schoolchildren killed at Sandy Hook.

“The most important thing is that the court has an opportunity to consider the perspective of the physicians and trauma surgeons who have to deal with the effects of the AR-15 and similar assault weapons,” Dell said on Tuesday.

Legal experts following the case have said the case, while novel, faces an uphill fight in Connecticut.

The state’s high court is expected to decide later this year whether to remand the case back to Bridgeport Superior Court and to allow the families to continue with their discovery. The families are seeking to hold Remington and Bushmaster responsible for the criminal use of the weapon in civilian hands. The families are asking the court to strike Fairfield District Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis’ October decision that granted motions from Remington and Bushmaster.

In her decision, Bellis wrote that the “negligent entrustment” law broadly prohibits lawsuits against gunmakers, distributors, dealers and importers from harm caused by the criminal misuse of their firearms.

Noting the enormous popularity of the gun in the civilian market, the doctors’ brief said, “The AR-15 military assault rifle was originally designed for military use and to cause maximum carnage with extreme efficiency.”

The doctors, some of whom are gun owners, according to the brief, believe “These military weapons are completely distinct from handguns and rifles used for hunting and self-defense. They can cause enormous human carnage, destruction and chaos with their high energy and rapid fire bullets that leave gaping holes and turn surrounding tissue into goo in large numbers of victims in seconds.”

On March 2, in a 62-page brief filed with the high court, attorneys from Bridgeport-based Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder representing the plaintiffs asserted that Remington, which sold the Bushmaster AR-15 used by Adam Lanza, knew or should have known the weapon was meant only for battle. Lanza, who went on his shooting spree in the elementary school in December 2012, fired 154 bullets in about five minutes, killing more than two dozen people and injuring several others.

The families first sued Remington and Bushmaster and others in Superior Court in 2014, alleging the companies shared liability for the deaths of those gunned down by Lanza. The plaintiffs allege that Remington sold the weapon to the distributor, Camfour Holding LLP, which in turn sold the rifle to the gun shop, Riverview Sales, which then sold the gun to Lanza’s mother. Camfour and Riverview are listed as defendants, along with Remington and Bushmaster. Riverview has since gone out of business.

James B. Vogts represents Remington and did not return a call seeking comment.

Scott Allan of New York-based Renzulli Law Firm, represents Camfour and declined to comment.

Peter Berry of Bloomfield-based Berry Law, represents Riverview. Berry did not return a call seeking comment.

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