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Law-and-order Virginia may get to host the first criminal prosecutions in the sniper case, but D.C. has landed a key piece of the civil litigation. On Oct. 1, attorneys representing the estate of the District’s lone sniper victim, Pascal Charlot, filed suit in D.C. Superior Court here against Maine-based Bushmaster Firearms Inc. Other victims and families are suing Bushmastermaker of the .223 caliber rifle allegedly used in the shootingsin Washington state, where the gun was obtained. But whereas Washington state permits gun manufacturers to be sued on traditional grounds of negligence, says Charlot attorney John C. Keeney Jr. of Hogan & Hartson, the D.C. Code applies a more stringent standard of “strict liability” for assault-weapons manufacturers, so they can be sued simply for making a gun used in a District shooting. In tort law, Keeney says, “victims win much more frequently under a strict-liability standard.” David Morton