A federal judge in Alabama on Tuesday said he wouldn't slow gunmaker Remington’s bankruptcy proceedings despite pleas from the families of those killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.
Judge Clifton Jessup Jr. of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Alabama decided he would not change the timeline for Remington to begin auctioning off pieces of its business as soon as Sept. 17, AL.com reported.
A survivor and the families of nine victims of the 26 people killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., had sought to stall the process by 45 days. They can still object to the sale by Sept. 1.
“The families have grave concerns about the speed, the breakneck speed that the debtors are setting up for this sale,” attorney David Elsberg told the judge at the hearing Tuesday. “There won’t be, there simply can’t be, a full and fair process unless this high-speed train that we’re on slows down.”
They're also suing Remington in Connecticut Superior Court, but the separate lawsuit has been put on hold amid the bankruptcy proceedings. In that suit, they allege the company should have never sold the Remington-made Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used by the school shooter to members of the public and that Remington targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games.
Jessup said he would not extend the bankruptcy process because it appeared the families would use that time to continue their discovery process in the Connecticut case, “and that’s a problem" for the Alabama bankruptcy court.
The families feared the fast-track auction would “prevent Remington from ever answering for its role in the wrongful marketing of the weapon and that marketing’s causal role in the devastating loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” CNBC reported, citing an Aug. 7 court filing.
Remington Arms filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July, listing its assets and liabilities between $100 million and $500 million. It had between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors. The company has a plant in Huntsville, Ala., but is based in Madison, N.C.
Embroiled in debt and lawsuits, coupled with the economic downturn of the coronavirus pandemic, the 204-year-old gun maker filed for bankruptcy at a time when gun sales were actually spiking amid fears of civil unrest in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
As nightfall in major metropolitan areas saw violence and lootings, and Black Lives Matter advocated to defund police departments, gun sales seemingly began to skyrocket as citizens sought to take their personal safety into their own hands, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this year, the families of those killed at Sandy Hook were granted access to the computer of the shooter. They were looking for evidence of the shooter's exposure to advertisements for weapons and argue Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act by marketing its Bushmaster XM15-E2S, an AR-15 style weapon, to civilians.
Twenty children and six adult staff were killed at the school shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.