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Law firm for gun maker withdraws from Sandy Hook case

2 minute read

Attendees examine a Remington shotgun at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting, in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

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  • Another firm will step in for Day Pitney to represent Remington in a lawsuit brought by families of Sandy Hook victims
  • Remington drew scrutiny in and out of court over subpoenas it sought for victims' academic records

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(Reuters) - U.S. gun maker Remington Arms Co has changed law firms in its nearly seven-year legal battle with the families of nine victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

Kerry Callahan of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy on Tuesday informed the Connecticut Superior Court he is replacing a team from Day Pitney, which has represented Remington since 2019.

The substitution comes two months after Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis warned Remington it risked a default if it violated court rules regarding document production, putting a spotlight on the gun maker's attorneys.

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Bellis in September denied Remington's bid to obtain educational records of five children and employment records of four of the teachers who were killed by Adam Lanza. Bellis said the subpoenas sought by the Day Pitney team circumvented court rules for document production.

"The Remington defendants are cautioned that they are obligated to comply with the rules of practice, and failure to do so in the future may result in sanctions including but not limited to default," Bellis wrote in a Sept. 14 order.

Remington's bid for the student victims' academic records also drew harsh criticism outside court, such as a Washington Post editorial calling the move a "new low" for the firearms industry.

Neither Remington, Callahan nor the Day Pitney lawyers he's replacing – partners Jeffrey Mueller, James Rotondo and Paul Williams – responded to requests for comment on the counsel change or what prompted it. Remington is also represented by attorneys from Chicago-based law firm Swanson, Martin & Bell, which also did not respond to requests for comment.

Twenty students and six adults were killed on Dec. 14, 2012, by Lanza, who used a Remington Bushmaster rifle as he shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School after shooting his mother to death at home.

The plaintiffs, who allege Remington's marketing of firearms contributed to the tragedy, have estimated their wrongful death claims likely totaled more than $225 million, and total claims including punitive damages could exceed $1 billion.

Remington offered to settle the lawsuit for nearly $33 million in July, but the case has proceeded since that offer was made.

Read more:

Remington offers $33 million to families of Sandy Hook school shooting victims

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.

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