The families suing Remington Arms over its marketing of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook School massacre want a court to order the gunmaker to keep confidential school records it has subpoenaed about five children and four educators who died in the 2012 attack in Newtown.
A lawyer for the families asked for the protective order in a motion dated Thursday, part of the ongoing argument between the families and the gunmaker over the relevance and confidentiality of records the parties are trying to collect as they prepare cases for the trial now scheduled in the coming weeks.
The latest salvo in the dispute was fired by attorney Joshua D. Koskoff, who represents estates of the nine, in response to subpoenas from Remington Arms to Newtown Public Schools for employment files of the four teachers, as well as the kindergarten and 1st grade educational records of Jesse Lewis, Daniel Barden, Dylan Hockley, Benjamin Wheeler and Noah Pozner — the five schoolchildren for whom claims have brought in the case.
The Remington subpoena demands, among other things, the children’s “application and admission paperwork, attendance records, transcripts, report cards, (and) disciplinary records.” Koskoff’s motion called the gunmaker’s subpoenas an irrelevant invasion of privacy and asks presiding Judge Barbara Bellis to expand a previously issued confidentiality order to include “private educational, employment and medical records and information.”
“We have no explanation for why Remington subpoenaed the Newtown Public School District to obtain the kindergarten and 1st grade academic, attendance and disciplinary records of these five school children,” Koskoff said. “The records cannot possibly excuse Remington’s egregious marketing conduct, or be of any assistance in estimating the catastrophic damages in this case. The only relevant part of their attendance records is that they were at their desks on December 14, 2012.”
The Remington lawyers, who have declined to discuss the case in the past, were not immediately available.
The Sandy Hook families have been fighting in court for years to obtain Remington marketing materials they believe will prove that the company violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act with a campaign to persuade civilians to buy what it knew was a weapon designed for military use.
Such a sales strategy put one of the guns in the hands of Nancy Lanza and, ultimately, her son Adam, who used a Bushmaster AR-15 to kill 26 people, including 20 1st graders inside the Sandy Hook School on Dec. 14, 2012. He fired 156 rounds in under five minutes before using a handgun to then kill himself.
Opponents of the sales to civilians of military-style assault weapons argue that the AR-15 has increasingly been at the center of mass shootings in the U.S. largely through the closely guarded marketing strategies of manufacturers.
While arguing for the confidentiality of child and educator school records, the families asked the court to consider allowing disclosure of some business records Remington had claimed were proprietary. The families argued that “the public has a right to know what the plaintiffs learn about Remington’s business.”
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