Lawyers for Sandy Hook shooting victims’ families argue for their case
NEWTOWN — Lawyers for the parents of two children slain in the Sandy Hook massacre argued in court filings this week that a judge should not throw out the families’ wrongful death lawsuit against the town and the school district.
The town of Newtown’s attorneys have asked a judge to dismiss negligence claims made by the parents, arguing it was the shooter, Adam Lanza, who committed the worst crime in Connecticut history — not administrators and teachers who died trying to save children’s lives.
In documents filed in Danbury Superior Court this week, the families’ lawyers said the case must go to trial in March as scheduled.
“It seems many of the arguments that the defense makes ... is that the teachers could not do ‘X’ in the emergency and therefore we are not responsible for what happened,” reads the argument by the attorneys Devin Janosov and Donald Papcsy. “[Y]et the facts show that it was the direct fault of the defendants that the teachers couldn’t do ‘X’ in the emergency in the first place.”
The families’ lawsuit against Newtown was in the headlines in September when they received a judge’s permission to inspect the emergency folders taken by police from two classrooms where teachers and students were slain.
In doing so, they discovered that a key to allow a teacher to lock her classroom in an emergency was missing from its folder on the day of the Sandy Hook massacre.
School district officials had maintained in court documents that every classroom had an emergency folder with a key to lock the door against an intruder.
In July, Newtown asked a judge to throw out the families’ suit, arguing that no one could have foreseen the “horrendous and unprecedented” violence that Lanza committed when he shot the windows out in the locked entrance way and fired 150 bullets in 260 seconds.
The families’ attorneys responded this week in court papers that the parents had a right to expect the school to follow its own emergency protocol.
“While it is true that staff from Sandy Hook School lost their lives in a manner that can be seen as heroic, noble and selfless, the plaintiffs have not sued the staff member victims who lost their lives...” the attorneys’ stated in their filing. “The plaintiffs lost their children in this tragedy, and have fair reason to place blame onto the defendants which they have sued; the town of Newtown and the Newtown Board of Education...”
The two families suing Newtown are also involved in a separate lawsuit against the gunmaker Remington.
That higher-profile wrongful death case was brought by 10 families against the maker of the AR-15-style rifle used by Lanza to massacre 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook School in 2012.
That case was thrown out of court in 2016 and is being appealed. It is being heard in state Supreme Court on Nov. 14.