Families of nine victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have reached a settlement—the first of its kind—with the company that manufactured the rifle used during the massacre, according to court documents. Remington agreed Tuesday to settle the liability claims of the families of four students and five adults who were among the 26 people killed in 2012 by the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Lanza used a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle manufactured by Remington, in addition to another handgun.
The $73 million settlement, the text of which can be read here, comes nearly eight years after the families sued, and it marks the first time a gun manufacturer in the United States has been held liable for a mass shooting.
It also marks the end of a protracted legal battle over how firearms were being marketed by Remington—once America’s top rifle maker and the world’s largest ammo manufacturer, but that filed for bankruptcy in 2018. The families argued in their 2014 lawsuit that Remington irresponsibly marketed the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle as a military-style weapon to at-risk young men through product placement in violent video games. The families noted the lawsuit’s point was to prevent future mass shootings.
Remington denied their allegations. But last July, its attorneys offered $33 million to the nine families who were suing, to be paid by the company’s insurers—roughly $3.7 million each. At the time, one of the families’ lawyers praised the settlement offer, saying the gun maker and its insurers “deserve credit for now realizing that promoting the use of AR-15s as weapons of war to civilians is indefensible.” That was the last major update on the progress, which concluded with the families saying they’d need to discuss the offer with their lawyers.
In a statement released today, Nicole Hockley, a cofounder of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation and whose son was killed in the shooting, said: “My beautiful butterfly, Dylan, is gone because Remington prioritized its profit over my son’s safety. . . . My hope is that by facing and finally being penalized for the impact of their work, gun companies, along with the insurance and banking industries that enable them, will be forced to make their business practices safer than they have ever been.”