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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Dave Altimari, The Hartford Courant (TNS)

HARTFORD, Conn. — The parents of ten children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School have filed or soon will file notices in probate court that they plan to make wrongful death claims on their children’s behalf.

Filing the forms that open estates in the children’s names, with their parents as the administrators, is a necessary legal step before a lawsuit can be filed.

Eight estates that were opened Monday are in the names of Benjamin Wheeler, Jessica Rekos, Jack Pinto, Grace McDonnell, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Ana Marquez-Greene and Arielle Richman, according to probate court records.

Last week, the parents of Dylan Hockley were approved as administrators. The tenth will be the estate of Jesse Lewis, which previously had been filed and closed but is in the process of being reopened, probate officials said.

The probate filings do not automatically mean that all ten families or any of them will go through with legal action. The five-page documents include a box that must be checked if the estate plans to file a wrongful death claim. The filings do not indicate against whom a lawsuit would be filed. The Fairfield County probate judge still must approve the eight filings made Monday.

Sources said several families met over the weekend with lawyers from Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, a Bridgeport, Conn., law firm, to discuss a potential lawsuit against Bushmaster, the North Carolina-based manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR 15 that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 first-graders and six adults on Dec. 14, 2012.

There have also been discussions with other lawyers about filing a lawsuit against the town over security issues at the school on the day of the massacre or about suing the estate of Nancy Lanza.

The deadline to file civil lawsuits against the town of Newtown or the school board is Sunday, two years after the shooting. There are circumstances where a lawsuit against a private company, such as a gun manufacturer, could be filed within three years but that statute normally deals with product liability cases, which is not an issue here, according to several lawyers not involved with the case.

Sources said that the families also are considering suing the insurance company that holds the insurance policy for Nancy Lanza’s Newtown home. Nancy Lanza’s probate estate is still open but the largest asset — the home where she was killed by her son before he drove to the Sandy Hook school — was turned over to the town. The estate has about $64,000, according to probate filings.

But Nancy Lanza did have homeowners insurance, which could become a target in a lawsuit that argues she was negligent to allow her troubled son access to weapons and ammunition, including the Bushmaster used in the massacre.

Under state law, a lawyer would have to have a lawsuit in the hands of a state marshal by Sunday, not necessarily filed in court. The marshal then has 30 days in which to serve the parties being sued.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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