Today, the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of all of plaintiffs’ claims against the manufacturer, wholesale distributor, and retail dealer in Soto v. Bushmaster Firearms International, LLC, et al., except for a narrow theory related to the marketing of firearms.  The Court unanimously dismissed plaintiffs’ primary claims that the sale of Modern Sporting Rifles, like the Bushmaster XM15-E2S, to civilians constitutes negligent entrustment and violates the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”).  The Court, in particular, concluded that plaintiffs’ claims against defendants based on the sale of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle were barred by the statute of limitations. 
However, in a 4-3 decision, the Court opened the door to a “narrow legal theory,” namely, that CUTPA applies to the marketing of firearms and that this type of alleged violation constitutes a predicate exception to the PLCAA.  The majority held that the plaintiffs had sufficiently pleaded allegations that “the defendants knowingly marketed, advertised, and promoted the XM15-E2S for civilians to use to carry out offensive, military style combat missions against their perceived enemies.” The majority explained that “[s]uch use of the XM15-E2S, or any weapon for that matter, would be illegal, and Connecticut law does not permit advertisements that promote or encourage violent, criminal behavior.”  On that narrow basis, the majority held that the “PLCAA does not bar the plaintiffs’ wrongful marketing claims and that, at least to the extent that it prohibits the unethical advertising of dangerous products for illegal purposes, CUTPA qualifies as a predicate statute.” The majority further held that on the “basis of that limited theory, we conclude that the plaintiffs have pleaded allegations sufficient to survive a motion to strike and are entitled to have the opportunity to prove their wrongful marketing allegations.”

We are evaluating the majority’s decision, as well as the dissenting opinion issued by Justice Robinson (and joined by Justices Vertefeuille and Elgo).  As this matter progresses, we will keep our readers updated concerning important developments in this case.