NEWTOWN — A judge has ruled that information 10 Sandy Hook families are seeking from gunmaker Remington in a wrongful death lawsuit are “fair game,” and Remington must “act in good faith” to provide it.

“The obligation to act in good faith and provide documents within their knowledge, possession, or power rests on (Remington), and it is fair game for the (families) to discover whether the defendants met their obligations,” wrote Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis in a ruling on Tuesday.

The ruling sends the nation’s oldest gunmaker back to the negotiating table with lawyers for nine families who lost loved ones and a teacher who was shot in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, as the two sides prepare for a 2021 trial.

Tuesday’s ruling against Remington represents the families’ latest victory in their six-year battle charging the maker of the AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting with reckless marketing, in violation of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.

In mid-June, Bellis permitted the families’ attorneys to question the gunmaker’s executives under oath about its internal organization and procedures — questions which Remington considered invasive and improper.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis Photo: Autumn Driscoll
Photo: Autumn Driscoll

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis

The families’ lawsuit, once considered to have a slight chance of winning, has become the nation’s most visible case of victims suing a gunmaker over a mass shooting.

Bellis’ ruling on Tuesday stems from a dispute between the two sides over Remington’s objection to naming every person the company has contacted for “any statements, documents, and/or communication concerning the December 14, 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including statements, documents, and/or communications concerning responses to the shooting and/or the shooter” from the time of the shooting through December 31, 2016.”

James Vogts one of the defense attorneys for Remington, in Superior Court in 2016. Photo: Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media /
Photo: Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media /

James Vogts one of the defense attorneys for Remington, in Superior Court in 2016.

“(Remington’s) obligation in responding to requests for documents is to make reasonable searches for responsive documents,” Remington’s attorneys argued in a July 13 brief to Bellis. “That is what (Remington has) done and will continue to do in responding to ... each of (the families’) more than 70 separate requests for documents, which to date has resulted in production of tens of thousands of documents, consisting of more than 100,000 pages.”

Bellis disagreed.

“The court rejects the Remington defendants arguments that Remington defense counsel determines which Remington employees might possess responsive documents without further explanation,” Bellis wrote in her Tuesday ruling. 203-731-3342