Cultural Revolutions

Blame Bushmaster

The families of nine of the 26 people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit.  The killings were carried out by Adam Lanza, a mentally disturbed 20-year-old living with his mother, Nancy.  On the morning of the incident, Lanza shot his mother while she slept, took various unsecured firearms that she had legally purchased, and then headed to the elementary school, where he went on a killing spree.  After terrorizing the students and teachers, Lanza committed suicide to avoid facing the earthly consequences of his acts.

The Connecticut wrongful-death statute, in derogation of the common law, allows the executor of a deceased’s estate to recover damages “from the party legally at fault” for the injuries and death.  In prosecuting such an action, the plaintiff generally must show a causal relation between the plaintiff’s injuries and the defendant’s conduct.  In establishing the proximate cause of the injuries, Connecticut case law requires that the defendant’s conduct be a “substantial factor” in producing the injury—i.e., “the harm which occurred must be of the same general nature as the foreseeable risk created by the defendant’s negligence.”

The two clear targets of the wrongful-death action are Lanza and his mother.  Lanza, quite obviously, is the individual...

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