The parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have sued the shooter’s mother.
The complaint alleges that the late Nancy Lanza, mother of Adam Lanza, negligently allowed her son access to the Bushmaster A-15 used in the shootings when she knew or should have known made her son a danger to others.
The shootings resulted in the deaths of twenty children and six adults.
If press reports from the months following the shooting are correct, the case stands on solid legal footing. No sane person would deny the fact that the AR-15 is a very dangerous weapon. And, if the press reports are true there will be little doubt that Adam was quite mentally ill.
The fight will be over whether the mother knew or should have known about the risk of violence. The defense will try to argue that no one, including Nancy Lanza, would or should have foreseen the 112 pound Adam would murder almost two dozen children. The families will argue that (a) the exact nature of the crime need not be foreseen; and (b) the mother should have foreseen that Adam’s mental state was such that he was a risk of harming others and thus (c) should have denied him access to guns and ammunition.
There would ordinarily also be a fight over the relative degree of fault apportioned to the tortfeasors – Adam and his mother. Whether this happens in this case depends on the law of Connecticut – is fault apportioned between negligent and intentional tortfeasors, given his mental state is Adam an intentional tortfeasor, is liability several or joint and several, etc.
Recall that Adam also killed his mother and thus this claim is against her estate – an estate with a value of $64,000. There is also a homeowner’s insurance policy at play but it only has $1,000,000 in coverage. My guess is that this lawsuit has little to do with money but instead is designed to send a message to parents with severe mental illness that those children do not need access to guns or ammunition.
For those with a deep interest in this subject, click on the link to read the PDF of the report issued by the Office of the Child Advocate of the State of Connecticut. Note that the authors conclude that ” only [Adam] was responsible for his murderous actions at Sandy Hook” and the report goes out of its way to eliminate any responsibility for what occurred on any other person or institution.
Pardon me for being a little cynical, but I cannot help but wonder if this report was written in an effort to shield the State and others from liability for this event.