BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The families of Andre Mackniel and Katherine "Kat" Massey, who were killed in the mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, have retained The Law Office of John V. Elmore, P.C to pursue potential legal action.
"I can't promise you there's a viable lawsuit. But I can tell you that I've assembled the best team of lawyers in the nation that can take a close look at this, and if we can be successful, all of us in New York State are going to be safer, and the country is going to be safer," John Elmore, partner at John V. Elmore, P.C said.
The Elmore firm announced it will partner with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, which is the Connecticut law firm that successfully brought suit on behalf of families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook shooting.
"The thing that is chilling about about Buffalo is that the weapon that the shooter used was a Bushmaster XM15-E2S... The Bushmaster XM15-E2S is the exact model that was used in Sandy Hook," Josh Koskoff, an attorney at Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder said.
Koskoff said the key to the win was examining the gun's marketing. He said in 2005, there was about 100,000 AR-15s sold per year. By 2012, that number increased to $2.1 million AR-15s sold per year.
Koskoff said the way the companies target buyers caused that increase. He said the companies now bypass parents, reaching young people through the internet.
"What they did in a nutshell is they targeted teenagers, even children, and they promoted criminal use of their weapon, and they reached their target," Koskoff said.
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is also joining forces with the two firms. The center tracks and analyzes firearm legislation in all 50 states.
"Giffords Law Center provides expertise in gun laws, litigation over gun safety issues, and a wealth of experience in these kinds of cases," Adam Staggs, chief counsel at the Gifford Law Center said.
Elmore said it's challenging to sue gun manufacturers because there are certain federal laws that protect those companies. However, he said the exception is state consumer protection laws.
"In February, Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder secured a historic victory for the families of nine victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, including both a $73 million settlement and the right to make public documents that can shed light on how Remington prioritized profit over safety. The settlement was the result of an eight-year legal battle that experts often predicted was unlikely to succeed." a release says.
“As we’ve seen in Connecticut and across the country, holding gun companies accountable when their weapons of war are used to tear apart families and communities is a daunting legal task. Josh Koskoff is the only attorney in the country that has successfully navigated a case like this, and his expertise coupled with our deep and specific understanding of New York law is what these families deserve.”
"These families have now been drafted into a group no one wants to join: those shattered by the reality of another mass shooting carried out with a combat weapon designed for a battlefield. Although the AR-15 was available commercially for decades, mass shootings became common only after gun companies began aggressively marketing these weapons to kids, teenagers and young adults by promoting the military and assaultive prowess of the weapon. These cases are a marathon and not a sprint; they take time to investigate and prosecute. John Elmore is not only an incredibly skilled and experienced attorney with deep ties to law enforcement, but he is also a permanent fixture in the Buffalo community focused solely on helping these families. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of that in a case like this."
“Giffords Law Center is dedicated to saving lives from gun violence and, as part of that mission, we work to hold those who fuel gun violence accountable. We are honored to work with John Elmore and Kristen Elmore-Garcia as they seek to obtain justice for those who have suffered unimaginable losses at the hands of a hate-fueled white supremacist supplied with military grade weaponry suited for a battlefield — not a supermarket.”