Leesfield Scolaro has represented many clients injured in drop-fire cases against gun manufacturers. One of the many allegations included that the subject pistols had a design defect which caused them to fire without the trigger being pulled. The flawed designs were responsible for the accidental discharges, which caused death or catastrophic injuries to our clients.
One of the common design defects pertains to a crucial component that ignites the gunpowder in the cartridge, which in turn propels the bullet out of the barrel. That component is the firing pin. The firing pin is a small metal rod that is spring-loaded and sits inside the slide of the pistol. When the trigger is pulled, it releases the hammer, which then strikes the firing pin, causing it to impact the primer on the cartridge. The primer contains a small amount of explosive that ignites the gunpowder and propels the bullet out of the barrel.
In past cases, Attorney Thomas Scolaro was able to prove that the design defect was related to the firing pin releasing without the trigger being pulled -that it could happen whether the safety was engaged or disengaged, which is a separate design defect- causing the firing pin to impact the primer and discharge the firearm unintentionally.
What causes an accidental discharge when a gun is dropped?
When a gun is dropped, it experiences a sudden and forceful impact. This can cause the internal parts of the gun to shift or move out of place. Inertia is the tendency of an object in motion to continue moving in a straight line at a constant speed, unless acted upon by an external force. When a gun is dropped, the impact creates a sudden force that acts on the gun’s internal parts, including the trigger assembly. This force causes the trigger to move, and the inertia of the trigger assembly can cause it to continue moving even after the initial impact. This movement can cause the trigger to disengage from its proper position and release the firing pin, resulting in an accidental discharge.
Current litigation against the Sig Sauer P320
The Sig Sauer P320 is a popular striker-fired pistol that was first introduced in 2014. In 2017, a design defect in the P320 was discovered, which caused the firearm to discharge when dropped. This defect led to a product safety recall and multiple lawsuits against Sig Sauer.
The design defect in the P320 was related to the trigger mechanism of the firearm. When the P320 was dropped, the trigger could move forward and release the firing pin, causing the firearm to discharge. This serious safety defect led to multiple injury claims from P320 gun owners. In one famous case, a police officer was injured when his P320 discharged after being dropped during a training exercise. In response to the lawsuits, Sig Sauer issued a product safety recall in August 2017, offering to repair or replace affected P320 pistols free of charge. The recall affected all P320 pistols manufactured before August 8, 2017. Despite the recall however, lawsuits filed against Sig Sauer continued, alleging that the company was aware of the design defect but failed to warn consumers or issue a recall sooner.
What are the most common defects subjecting gun manufacturers to product liability lawsuits?
- Design defects: These occur when a gun is designed in such a way that it poses an unreasonable risk of harm to users or others. For example, a gun may have a design flaw that causes it to accidentally discharge when dropped or bumped.
- Manufacturing defects: These occur during the manufacturing process and can result in a gun being defective even if it was designed properly. For example, a gun may have a defective firing pin that causes it to misfire.
- Warning defects: These occur when a gun manufacturer fails to provide adequate warnings or instructions for safe use of the gun. For example, a gun may not have proper instructions for how to safely store or transport it.
- Marketing defects: These occur when a gun manufacturer markets a product in a way that misleads consumers or fails to warn them about the risks associated with using the product. For example, a gun manufacturer may market a gun as safe for use by children, when it is not.
Below are examples of past cases where plaintiff(s) prevailed in their product liability claims against different gun manufacturers:
- Design Defect:
- Remington Model 700 Rifles: In 2014, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Remington Arms alleging that the company’s Model 700 rifles were prone to firing without the trigger being pulled due to a design defect. The case was settled for $12.5 million.
- Glock Pistols: In 2011, a California jury awarded $500,000 to a police officer who was accidentally shot in the leg by a Glock pistol with a design flaw that caused it to discharge when dropped.
- Taurus PT 24/7 Pistols: In 2016, a class-action lawsuit was settled for $30 million against Taurus International Manufacturing over alleged design defects in their PT 24/7 pistols, which were said to cause accidental discharges.
- Manufacturing Defect:
- Sig Sauer P320 Pistols: In 2018, Sig Sauer settled a class-action lawsuit for $10 million over alleged defects in their P320 pistols, which were said to have a potential for unintentional discharges due to a manufacturing defect.
- Winchester Model 70 Rifles: In 2014, Winchester settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount over a manufacturing defect that caused the company’s Model 70 rifles to accidentally discharge.
- Colt AR-15 Rifles: In 2017, Colt settled a lawsuit for $11.5 million over a manufacturing defect that caused the company’s AR-15 rifles to fire when the trigger was released.
- Warning Defect:
- Smith & Wesson Sigma Series Pistols: In 2005, Smith & Wesson settled a lawsuit for $25 million over allegations that the company failed to adequately warn users of a defect that caused the Sigma Series pistols to fire when the slide was released.
- Browning BPS Shotguns: In 2002, a jury awarded $8 million to a man who was injured by a Browning BPS shotgun that lacked proper warning labels regarding the potential for the gun to accidentally discharge.
- Savage Model 110 Rifles: In 2018, Savage Arms settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount over allegations that the company failed to warn users of a defect that caused the Model 110 rifles to accidentally discharge.
- Marketing Defect:
- Remington 700 Rifles: In addition to the design defect case mentioned above, Remington also settled a lawsuit in 2014 for $30 million over allegations that the company marketed their 700 rifles as safe, despite knowing about the potential for the guns to accidentally discharge.
- Colt Revolvers: In 1997, Colt settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount over allegations that the company marketed their revolvers as safe, despite knowing about the potential for the guns to fire when dropped.
- Beretta 92FS Pistols: In 2011, a man was awarded $1 million by a jury over allegations that Beretta marketed their 92FS pistols as safe, despite knowing about a defect that could cause the guns to accidentally discharge.