Sandy Hook wrongful death lawsuit returned to state court

One of the considerations that must be taken into account when preparing a lawsuit, including a wrongful death action, for trial includes what is known in the legal profession as “motion practice.” These are pretrial efforts by both plaintiffs and defendants to influence how, where or even whether the trial will be held by attempting to persuade the judge in the matter to rule on matters such as proper service of process, proper venue, proper jurisdiction, and whether the plaintiffs have properly stated their case.

The litigation that has followed the 2012 mass murder of elementary school students and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut provides a current example of motion practice and how important it can be in determining the chances for success or failure of a lawsuit. Families of some of the murder victims had filed suit against multiple defendants involved in the manufacture and sale of the firearm used in the killings. The manufacturer, Remington, sought to have the suit moved from Connecticut state court to federal district court, its purpose likely being at least in part to take advantage of the fact that federal courts have yet to hold gun manufacturers liable for injuries to third parties.

In this case, however, the federal district court judge in Hartford refused to accept federal jurisdiction over the lawsuit and has returned it to the Connecticut state court. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the wrongful death lawsuit have supported the move, claiming that it improves the chances that the plaintiffs will be successful in establishing liability on the part of Remington and the other defendants.

While the news account does not make it clear why the federal court judge refused to accept jurisdiction over the wrongful death lawsuit, the importance for our review here is to affirm the significance of the ability of plaintiffs’ attorneys to understand and properly use pretrial legal considerations and motion practice as part of preparing a civil lawsuit for settlement or trial.

Source: ABC News, “Newtown Families Suit against Gun Maker Sent to State Court,” Oct. 1, 2015

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