Newtown Victims' Families Might Be Preparing to Sue

12-10-14 Sandy Hook 2
At Union Square in New York on June 14, 2013, street artist Mark Panzarino, 41, prepares a memorial as he writes the names of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims on the six-month anniversary of the massacre. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

As the two-year anniversary of the grisly shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, approaches, some families of the 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School may be taking steps to sue, though it's not yet clear who would be the target.

Parents of more than half the young victims have filed papers to create estates for their children, a step that must precede the filing of a wrongful-death lawsuit, the Hartford Courant reported Monday. Though a Connecticut probate court clerk told The Associated Press most parents had checked the box on the forms to indicate they plan to file a wrongful-death action, it is as yet unclear whom they intend to sue, since the estate paperwork does not require them to name a target for a future filing.

Parents did not return the AP's requests for comment, while a spokeswoman at Sandy Hook Promise, a Newtown-based nonprofit led by families of Sandy Hook victims that supports mental wellness and gun safety, told the wire service that several of the parents were declining to comment about the filings. Sandy Hook Promise did not immediately return Newsweek's request for more information about the filings.

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza showed up at the school he had attended as a child and killed 20 first-graders and six adults before taking his own life. He had already killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home before the shooting rampage at the school.

A report released last month by Connecticut's Office of the Child Advocate examined Lanza's life leading up to the shootings, analyzing his developmental, educational and mental health profile. The authors concluded that Lanza's attack was premeditated: "The attack on Sandy Hook Elementary appears to have been a purposefully thought-out and planned attack—AL did not just 'snap,'" the report's authors wrote.

At the same time, the authors emphasized that there were missed opportunities to seek and sustain care for Lanza, and a whole host of factors contributed to his rampage. Ultimately, they said, he alone was responsible for the violence.

The statute of limitations deadline for civil lawsuits over actions that cause death is approaching with the two-year anniversary. The families of Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Dylan Hockley, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Jack Pinto, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman and Benjamin Wheeler have taken the initial step to create estates for their children. While two of the estate filings were made in 2012 and 2013, the others were filed this month, in the last days leading up to the deadline.

The Hartford Courant reports that several families met recently with Bridgeport law firm Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder to discuss a potential lawsuit against Bushmaster, the manufacturer of the gun Lanza used in the shootings, but also mentions other discussions about suing the town or Nancy Lanza's estate. The law firm did not immediately return a call from Newsweek requesting a comment.

To beat the statute of limitations deadline, a state marshal would need to have the lawsuit by Sunday, December 14, the same day that 20 families mark the two years since their children went to school in the morning and never came home.

Newtown Victims' Families Might Be Preparing to Sue | U.S.