A gun manufacturer being sued by nine families whose loved ones died in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting was ordered to hand over relevant documents as part of pretrial discovery — but instead handed over thousands of "random images," including Minion memes, emojis, and ice bucket challenge videos, lawyers said.
According to court filings from the plaintiffs last week, Remington Outdoor Company — a now-bankrupt firearms company that made the AR-15 used in the school shooting that killed 27 people — "treated discovery as a game" in order to "delay and obfuscat[e]" the trial.
The Sandy Hook families first sued Remington back in 2014, asserting that the company's decision to market AR-15s to civilians deserves a share of the blame for the mass shootings that happen so regularly and gruesomely across the US.
"In order to continue profiting from the sale of AR-15s, defendants chose to disregard the unreasonable risks the rifle posed outside of specialized, highly regulated institutions like the armed forces and law enforcement," the plaintiffs' lawyers wrote in their initial complaint.
Now, seven years later, Remington has produced more than 40,000 documents — about 34,000 of which comprised seemingly nonsensical images, GIFs, and videos.
Among them were pictures of people go-karting, videos of gender reveal parties, and images of emojis of Santa Claus, ice cream, and a farmer.
Not every document was deemed irrelevant. They also submitted 2,350 emails — about 150 of which were duplicates.
The Sandy Hook legal team believes that vastly more emails were likely sent by the 30-plus-person marketing team, but said no emails by several top executives were produced.
"When the seemingly random cartoons, images, videos, duplicates, and other items noted are accounted for, Remington, it would seem, has spent the better part of seven years producing 6,606 potentially useful documents in response to the plaintiffs’ requests," the complaint states.
Lawyers for Remington did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News, but lead attorney James Vogts told the Connecticut Post they “will respond to this motion in the coming weeks, and point out what it believes are incorrect representations, numerous half-truths, and important omissions."