Families of Sandy Hook Victims File Lawsuit Against Nancy Lanza’s Estate

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It’s been a little over two years since the horrifying shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, but legal battles over the tragedy are still ongoing. Most recently, the families of eight of the Newtown victims have filed a lawsuit against the estate of shooter Adam Lanza’s mother, alleging that she was negligent because she left her guns accessible to her son.

Nancy Lanza owned a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, often classified as an assault weapon. On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza accessed that rifle from his mother’s house and used it to kill 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary. He also killed his mother at their home before going to the school.

Since Nancy Lanza is deceased, the lawsuit is being filed against her estate, and more particularly, its insurance policy. Samuel Starks is named as the defendant, as he’s the administrator of that estate, and he has said that he estimates its worth at $64,000; however, it is estimated that homeowner insurance polices that Lanza had are worth up to $1 million. That’s a normal avenue in cases like this, as according to the Connecticut Post:

Bridgeport lawyer Josh Koskoff, representing eight of the families suing, said homeowner’s insurance applies when a person is injured as a result of an unsecured firearm in a home being accessed by a third party.

Technically, there are two separate lawsuits filed against Lanza. One involves three of the children killed and four of the educators killed. Two of the teachers who were injured have also signed onto that lawsuit. A separate suit, on behalf of one of the deceased children, has also been filed.

The lawsuits both point out that Adam Lanza has access to the gun “despite the fact that she knew, or should have known, that his mental and emotional condition made him a danger to others.”

This isn’t the first lawsuit brought by some of the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. In December 2014 on the two-year anniversary of the shooting, nine of the families filed a lawsuit against Bushmaster, the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle. Camfour, the distributor the gun, and Riverview Sales, the shop that sold it to Nancy Lanza, were also all named in the suit.

Yet another lawsuit has been filed by the parents of two of the deceased students against the town, stating that it didn’t properly protect the school. The crux of that lawsuit was that one of the substitute teachers who was killed in the school that day, Lauren Rousseau, wasn’t given a key to lock her classroom door. As a result, Lanza was able to enter and kill 14 out of the 15 people in that room.

In a lot of ways these lawsuits are mainly symbolic. There’s not going to be much money that comes out of them, most likely, but they send a message to a number of people that what happened that fateful day was wrong. Guns should not be accessible to someone who has exhibited mental or emotional issues. Distributors should not sell guns that have the potential to be used to kill many people. Schools need to take all steps to make sure that even substitute teachers have the ability to secure their classrooms. These are the kinds of messages that the plaintiffs are hoping to send with these lawsuits–whether or not they’ll be successful will be up to the courts.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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