Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award

2022 Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award
Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, PC and the Families of Sandy Hook

Lawyers at Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder won justice for the families of five children and four adults killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It as a landmark victory in the families’ long-running case against Remington, the company that made and marketed the AR-15 weapon used in the massacre.

The firm took an innovative approach to a nearly insurmountable legal hurdle: a law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) which was believed to give firearms manufacturers blanket immunity in mass shooting cases. The legal team showed that Remington’s violence-glorifying marketing was an unfair trade practice, a violation of Connecticut law. This ground-breaking strategy meant that PLCAA’s protection for firearms manufacturers did not apply, and the case could move forward.

About the Award

The Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award recognizes plaintiffs and the attorneys of plaintiffs whose cases help tell the story of the American civil justice system.

This award is named for Steven J. Sharp of Richland, Oregon, a brave man who lost both arms at the age of 17 because of a defective tractor hay baler. The tractor manufacturer knew one person had been mangled, and another decapitated, by this defectively designed product. Yet, company executives did nothing, even though a small seventy cent part would have fixed the problem.

What happened to Steven shouldn’t happen to anyone else. But if it does, they should have a chance to seek justice too.

At the time of Steven’s case, legislation was pending that would have barred him from taking his case against the manufacturer to court. He spoke out to show lawmakers how legislation to limit access to the courts would deprive people like him of justice. Steven’s case had a positive effect on Capitol Hill and ultimately helped convince President Clinton to veto this unfair legislation.

Past Recipients

2021: Deepak Gupta
2019: Google Employees/Forced Arbitration: Tanuja Gupta, Christopher Schmidt, Emanuel Schorsch, Obasi Shaw, and Vicki Tardif
2018: Atttorney John C. Manly and Jeanette Antolin, Jamie Dantzscher, Mattie Larson, Kaylee Lorincz, Sterling Riethman, and Jordyn Wieber
2017: Gretchen Carlson and Nancy Erika Smith
2016: Susan Vento
2015: C. Richard Newsome, Corey Burdick, and Kaylee Burdick
2014: Lance Cooper, Ken Melton, and Beth Melton
2013: Benjamin Crump and Daryl D. Parks
2012: Michael Johnson and Gladys Mensing
2010: Jeremy Warriner and Attorneys Larry Coben and Keith D. Jones
2009: Diana Levine and Attorneys Richard Rubin and David Frederick
2008: Manny Vega and Attorneys Jeff Anderson and Ray Boucher
2007: Brent Coon and Eva Rowe
2006: Louise Bell, Carol Ernst, and Attorney Carlene Rhodes Lewis
2005: Brandon Maxfield and Attorney Richard Ruggieri
2004: Kay Bergonzi and Attorneys Mike Abourezk, Richard Friedman, Peter Kahana, and Michael White
2003: Shawna and Vernon Gardner and Attorneys Gregory Eisland and Glenn Johnson
2002: Laura Rose
2001: Ford/Firestone Attorneys
2000: Robyn Santitoro
2000: Elizabeth Kuniholm
1998: Linda McCathern and Attorney Jeff Foote
1998: Thomas Self and Attorneys Brian Monaghan and Sherry Bahrambeygui