“Face the Jury” is a podcast dedicated to all issues involving medical malpractice – what it is, how to spot it and how to prevent it while protecting yourself and your family.
Today we welcome back to the show my friend Josh Koskoff, a trial lawyer from Connecticut who has a reputation for taking on what seem to be impossible cases and getting great results for his clients.
Lloyd: Josh, I thought your firm was primarily focused on medical malpractice, and you started telling me about some cases that have nothing to do with medical malpractice cases; they seemed impossible. We’re going to talk about a few of them today. Let’s jump into it.
We last left off discussing the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. What do you think is the motivation for somebody like Alex Jones and people of his kind who spread this kind of a conspiracy theory?
Josh: What motivates Alex Jones is clear. It’s the same thing that motivated Remington in the marketing of the AR15, Purdue pharma in their marketing of opioids and was the reason they decided not to fix the Ford Pinto. Greed. Money. In some way, shape or form, all of us are motivated by money, but typically it’s not our first, second or third pursuit. When money is the only consideration, bad things happen.
Alex Jones figured out that the more outrageous the news he could promote, more attention he got. The more attention he gets leads to more clicks to sell products on his page. His motivation is to drive traffic at the end of the day, whether it’s even authentic, and he’s built an empire off that.
Lloyd: You had a relationship with the families of the victims because you’re representing them to hold Remington accountable for their role in Sandy Hook, specifically marketing this weapon to teenage boys filled with angst. One of their advertising slogans was “redeem your man card” by AR15.
The “argument” is we trust our 18 and 19-year-olds with weapons in the military. I was in the army for about four years on active duty, and nothing could be further from the truth. The military tightly controls all handguns and firearms under lock and key. You are not given ammunition unless you’re on a field training exercise or a rifle range under close supervision. Gun manufacturers try to blur the lines between the responsible control of weapons in the military versus the irresponsible promotion of dangerous, powerful machines to young people barely old enough to vote.
Josh: When I first started learning about the weapon, I had never heard of an AR15 in my life. I looked at the photograph of the weapon on the floor of Victoria Soto’s first-grade classroom and thought it was a machine gun. I learned about the DNA of this weapon and what it was manufactured for, which was a battlefield. It couldn’t be more different in structure, safety, security and accountability in the military versus an open porous unregulated civilian landscape.
So, I started thinking, why are these weapons entrusted to civilians in the first place? That got me thinking about the idea of negligent entrustment, which didn’t fly with the Connecticut Supreme Court, but our marketing arguments did.
Lloyd: Give us a status report on the Remington litigation because you had a big victory in the Supreme Court that said your case survived on the negligent piece. *note this conversation took place before Josh’s February 2022 settlement; more info found here.
Josh: It’s been a series of hurdles. We got tossed by the lower court and got a reversal by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The other side petitioned for certification to the United States Supreme Court, but they denied cert. Then about two months later, Remington declared bankruptcy again, which put us on ice for about eight months. Since then, we have been discovering and taking depositions and accumulating documents. We have learned a lot that will educate the public and hopefully establish accountability from this industry.
Lloyd: I want to go back to Alex Jones and your recent success in the litigation against him.
Josh: Alex Jones is not the most compliant litigant. He’s not precisely a humongous fan of our civil justice system, although he has no problem suing other people who he claims have defamed him.
We’ve never had a case where the other side is flat out defaulted by failing to meet their discovery obligations, and courts don’t want to do that, so they give warnings. For Alex Jones, the court could not have gone on record more times. You could argue earlier intervention by defaulting him would have been a solid exercise of discretion, but that discredits the essence of discretion. He has been defaulted finally because he failed to turn over his financial information.
Lloyd: For our non-attorney listeners trying to identify the jargon, what do you mean by it’s been defaulted?
Josh: Default, in this case, means that he has been punished for his failure to abide by the court rules and share information with us. The punishment, in this case, is that he’s lost the ability to defend his case in terms of being at fault and causing harm. So, two huge parts of the case we’ve won, he’s lost.
Lloyd: So, you’ve won by default?
Josh: Yes, now it’s a little different because this rarely happens. He may still have the opportunity, that’s still in debate, but he may still have the chance to challenge the extent of the harm. Overall, he lost the case and will have to pay some damage.
Lloyd: What you did is a huge deal. You fought against Alex Jones for a long time to get him to comply with the rules, and then you finally convinced a judge to say enough; you lose as a punishment for not thinking the rules don’t apply to you.
This case made national news, and the hope is that this kind of financial consequence will hold these dishonest purveyors of conspiracy theories to account.
Josh: It takes a specific type of person to think of the Sandy Hook school shooting as an opportunity to make money. Nevertheless, it’s hugely profitable, so if we can take out the profit from it, we should take out those who might be tempted to go in that direction by greed.
Lloyd: One of the themes that Alex Jones was doing seems to be another motivation beyond the money. After the shooting, there was a real interest in discussing possible gun regulation and addressing the issues with young, immature, dangerous teenage boys using military-style weapons.
It struck me that people like Alex Jones were playing a longer game to slow down traction on gun regulations before it reached congress members and senators. I remember the commentary that there is a strong second amendment argument juxtaposed with this sort of conspiracy.
Josh: They do feed off each other, but I wouldn’t say it’s 100% overlap, but there’s significant overlap between the gun extremists and the Alex Jones crowd. Not every gun owner is a military wannabe. It is not the most heterogeneous group, but it’s also not a monolithic group.
There is this reflexivity of extremism. As a factual matter, we know that gun sales skyrocketed after Sandy Hook. There was an apparent surge when Barack Obama was elected, and when Sandy Hook happened, they pushed gun sales through the roof, specifically AR15s. I would say Alex Jones took advantage of that.
Lloyd: Your firm is known for taking on seemingly impossible cases that are not always going to be profitable. You are diverting resources and using some of the most high-powered lawyers in your firm to work on these cases to commit to the larger cause.
Josh: My dad told me the most challenging thing he had to do was sue a doctor when he was practicing because it was rare back then. Time creates these perspectives, and it shouldn’t be as hard as it is to sue a gun company. There must be a measure of balance. Who knows, maybe our grandchildren will be having conversations about some new area that threatens the social fabric of our country.
Thank you for following along with Face the Jury this season. Stay tuned for Season 3, coming soon.