Posts Tagged ‘Connecticut’

Connecticut high court, PLCAA or no PLCAA, allows Remington suit

Over a dissent from three of its seven justices, the Connecticut Supreme Court has green-lighted a suit over purportedly negligent marketing of the Bushmaster rifle used in the Sandy Hook massacre, even though the firearm in question was never marketed or sold to the killer, who stole it from his mother who had purchased it lawfully long before. To do so, it had to get around a specific federal law (the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA) intended to stop exactly this kind of suit, which stretches available legal materials to an extreme so as to enable gun control objectives to be pursued through tort lawsuits. It resorted to ruling that the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), a state unfair-trade-practices law, is included as a “predicate statute” in an exception to PLCAA allowing suit in cases where guns have been sold in violation of a law or regulation. [Soto v. Bushmaster, majority opinion and dissent; Chris Woodyard, USA Today]

Writes Kevin Williamson: “The lawsuit against Remington is bogus. It has little to do with Connecticut commercial law and everything to do with a substantive gun-control agenda and the opportunistic inclination to wring money from institutions that have a great deal of it.”

I wrote about the suit at an earlier stage here and about PLCAA (for which I was a witness before the House Judiciary Committee at the time) here and here. From my 2014 piece:

In 2005 Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) specifically to put an end to product liability suits over guns that had been made and sold in accordance with law. The courts have generally enforced it as written – even the Ninth Circuit’s famously liberal Judge Stephen Reinhardt agreed that it was constitutional – which has mostly, if not entirely, led to the dismissal of such lawsuits. …

Let’s not forget that calculation of the relatively shallowness of pockets of gun-related businesses was part and parcel of the abusive strategy of the politicians and lawyers promoting the suits back then:

because gunmakers were too thinly capitalized to withstand the costs of years of legal defense, it was thought they’d fold their hands and yield to “gun control through litigation” (explicitly couched as an end run against a then-Republican Congress resistant to gun control proposals). …the suits eventually reached judges and were generally thrown out, but not before imposing huge and uncompensated costs on many small companies that had violated no laws. Some were bankrupted.

We may hope that the courts are alive to the ongoing importance of PLCAA, and willing, as appropriate, to apply the tool of sanctions against legal strategists and campaigners who would seek to circumvent its provisions in the name of ideological grandstanding, profit, or revenge.

More: Jacob Sullum (distinguishing negligent entrustment theory also promoted in suit, which was rejected in new ruling).

Crime and punishment roundup

Connecticut SC backs $41.7M verdict against school for failing to warn of tick bites

The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled “that schools have a duty to warn parents and students of potential hazards associated with field trips – in particular, dangerous insect bites – and let stand a $41.7 million verdict to a student who was disabled after developing encephalitis from a tick bite while on a school trip to China.” The Second Circuit had certified the question to the Connecticut court as part of the case of Munn v. Hotchkiss School. [Edmund H. Mahony/Hartford Courant, more] “According to the CDC, Munn was the first reported case of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) in a U.S. traveler to China.” [Jennifer Morgan DelMonico, Murtha Cullina Appellate Insights]

Higher education roundup

Discrimination law roundup

  • Go figure: Trump executive order says “Hire American” even as federal law bans job discrimination in favor of American citizens [Jon Hyman]
  • Though ADA excludes “gender identity” claims, judge green-lights suit over gender dysphoria [P.J. D’Annunzio, Law.com]
  • “UC Berkeley Drops Free Online Videos In Response To Government Threat” [Jane Shaw/Heartland, and thanks for quote]
  • “Hostile work environment can be created with one racial slur, 2nd Circuit rules” [ABA Journal]
  • Connecticut’s CHRO attracts much higher per capita filings of workplace discrimination than comparable agency in Massachusetts, with complaints from incumbent employees a key growth area [Marc E. Fitch, Yankee Institute; Daniel Schwartz with somewhat different view]
  • Missed, from December: Philadelphia could close businesses deemed to discriminate [Tricia Nadolny, Philadelphia Daily News, related earlier]

Banking and finance roundup

Consent decrees: the cost to kids

13 years after Ross Sandler and David Schoenbrod’s groundbreaking book Democracy by Decree, small groups of litigators, experts, special masters and other insiders continue to run many government agencies under what are known as consent decrees, court-enforced agreements to resolve litigation. Children’s services are particularly affected: “the Illinois child-welfare system is burdened by 10 different consent decrees, including one that has lasted nearly 40 years.” But the decrees often work against the real interests of the intended beneficiaries, argue Maura Corrigan and John Bursch in a paper for the American Enterprise Institute. By design, it is made hard to get out from under a decree, which can leave the small controlling group in control indefinitely: Connecticut’s 25-year-old child-welfare consent decree “contains 22 outcome measures that all must be met and sustained for six months before exit,” which has never happened.

“Man Accepted by 10 Law Schools Sues for Age Bias”

“Sixty-eight-year-old Geoffrey Akers, highly accomplished both academically and professionally, has sued the University of Connecticut Law School over the school’s denying him twice into its 2012 and 2013 classes. Akers applied to 11 law schools over the past several years. U. Conn Law School was the only school that didn’t accept him.” [FindLaw]