Families of Newtown massacre victims in $1.5 million settlement

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 03, 2015 4:55 PM

By Richard Weizel

MILFORD, Conn. (Reuters) - The families of 14 people killed in the 2012 massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School, and two survivors reached a $1.5 million legal settlement on Monday against the gunman's mother's estate, according to court records.

The families of victims and two school employees who survived the attack will each receive a $93,750 share of an insurance policy on the Newtown, Connecticut, home where Nancy Lanza lived with her son, gunman Adam Lanza, according to filings at a Bethel, Connecticut, probate court.

The 20-year-old gunman began his rampage on Dec. 14, 2012, by shooting and killing his mother with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle before driving to his former elementary school, where he gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators. He killed himself as police arrived.

A probate court clerk said Monday the settlement must still be approved by Probate Court Judge Joseph Egan.

The claims were made in two separate lawsuits filed against Nancy Lanza's estate. Newtown obtained possession of her home and tore it down this year, leaving it as open space for the near future, town officials said.

Attorney Samuel Starks, the estate's administrator, declined to comment on Monday.

Attorney Joshua Koskoff, who represents some of the plaintiffs, also declined to comment.

Earlier this year he said any monetary award or settlement "serves as an important reminder that people who keep firearms in the home must be scrupulous about securing their weapons."

The lawsuits claim that Nancy Lanza obtained the Bushmaster and kept it in her home, where her son had access to it despite a history of mental health problems.

State police reports indicate the gun was stored in a gun safe that was in a room adjacent to Adam Lanza's bedroom, and that he had "unlimited access to it."

The lawsuits contend Nancy Lanza "knew or should have known that (her son's) mental and emotional condition made him a danger to others." One of the lawsuits stated that while the assault weapon used by Lanza was legally sold in Connecticut, the weapon should not have been available to him.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Doina Chiacu)