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12/14 Wrongful Death Lawsuit Plaintiffs Argue Against Dismissal

Published: November 9, 2017

DANBURY — In legal papers dated November 1, the lawyers for the two plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit filed over the 12/14 shooting incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School urge that a judge not dismiss the lawsuit against the Town of Newtown and the Newtown Board of Education. The plaintiffs are seeking money damages.

In those documents, attorneys Devin Janosov and Donald Papcsy, representing the estates of shooting victims Noah Pozner and Jesse Lewis, object to the defendants’ pursuit of a summary judgement through which the defendants seek to have a judge at Danbury Superior Court dismiss the lawsuit. Pozner and Lewis were first-graders at the school.

In June, the defendants filed legal papers in seeking to have the wrongful death lawsuit dismissed. The plaintiffs then requested and received repeated delays in responding to that motion and an accompanying, lengthy memorandum of law supporting the motion.

In the shooting incident, a gunman shot his way into the school on December 14, 2012, where he killed 20 first graders and six adults. The gunman then shot and killed himself as police approached. Before going to the school, the gunman had shot and killed his mother at their Sandy Hook home. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in January 2015.

In their November 1 legal filing, the plaintiffs state that the defendants’ argument that the actions of the shooter were an “intervening cause” for the deaths, thus overriding responsibility on the part of the Sandy Hook School staff, is a “specious and illogical” argument.

“The plaintiffs acknowledge that the … case is one of unprecedented notoriety, as well as carnage, speculation, press coverage… However, [the] plaintiffs believe that if [applicable] law is followed as drafted, and the court refrains from attempting to answer the questions of material fact that exist in the… case, and instead just seeks to determine if such questions of fact exist, as the law in Connecticut dictates, that it will be clear that the plaintiffs should be permitted to proceed on their claims to a jury for a determination of the multitude of factual issues which exist in the… case,” according to plaintiffs’ objection to defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs include a lengthy memorandum of law, plus many legal exhibits, to support their motion.
In the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit, attorney Charles Deluca, representing the defendants, writes, in part, “The defendants are entitled to governmental immunity pursuant to [applicable state law].” Also, the defendants claim that “The plaintiffs have failed to produce the requisite expert testimony to support their claims.”

In June 2016, the estates of Pozner and Lewis offered to settle their pending wrongful death lawsuit provided that each plaintiff receives a payment of $5.5 million from the defendants. The defendants did not accept that offer.

The Pozner-Lewis lawsuit alleges there was insufficient security in place in the school and its grounds, allowing the shooter to forcibly enter the building and then enter two classrooms and shoot and kill people within those classrooms. The 66-page lawsuit lists a variety of reasons why the plaintiffs consider the school system to have been negligent on December 14, 2012, resulting in the many deaths there. The various allegations focus on the school system’s not having sufficient security measures in place to prevent the deaths.

The lawsuit states, “They [officials] failed to provide a security guard or any other type of law enforcement personnel to assist in the implementation of the [security] policies and procedures should an intruder enter the building, while leaving a large enough non-safety glass window directly to the right of the locked outer doors of the school, making access to the building relatively simple, and [making] successful lockdown of the building virtually impossible.”

Jury selection in the case scheduled for March 2018.

The wrongful death lawsuit lodged by the estates of Pozner and Lewis is a separate lawsuit from another wrongful death lawsuit, which has been lodged by ten plaintiffs against the manufacturer of the semiautomatic rifle that the gunman used in the shooting incident. The estates of Pozner and Lewis, however, are plaintiffs in both lawsuits.

The plaintiffs in the gun lawsuit are now seeking to have the state Supreme Court return that legal action to state Superior Court for a jury trial. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court in that case are scheduled for November 14. A Superior Court judge had dismissed that lawsuit last fall, resulting in the plaintiffs’ Supreme Court appeal.

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