Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Linda Mullenix has posted to SSRN Outgunned No More? Reviving a Firearms Industry Mass Tort Litigation. The abstract provides:
In November 2019, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in Remington Arms Co. v. Soto, on appeal from the Supreme Court of Connecticut. In so doing, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the Connecticut court’s determination that plaintiffs in gun litigation arising out of the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre could litigate wrongful death claims under Connecticut consumer protection and unfair trade practice statutes. In making that determination, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCCA) did not preempt the plaintiffs’ claims under state law. The Connecticut court decided that the plaintiffs’ claims came within PLCCA’s third exception to immunity, the so-called “predicate statute” exception. The Remington Arms litigation is important because it may signal a pathway for further firearms litigation against gun defendants in other states pursuant to state consumer and unfair trade practice statutes. This article assesses whether the Remington Arms precedent provides a possibility for reviving a firearms mass tort litigation, which possibility receded in the decade after congressional enactment of PLCCA. Evaluated in the context of well-known hallmarks of developing mass tort litigation, a firearms mass tort remains in a very nascent stage in the life cycle of mass tort litigation. It remains to be seen whether litigation against the gun industry will gain renewed traction as a consequence of the Connecticut Remington Arms litigation.