Could one of the most popular rifles produced and sold in the Unites States have a defect that causes it to fire without the trigger being pulled? Evidence suggests that this might be the case. In February, after thousands of customer complaints and years of denials, a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer moved another step forward.
Ten state attorneys general also publicly expressed their opinion, writing to the judge that they believe the manufacturer knew or should have known that these guns were defective but continued to make and sell them. Up to 7.5 million of these potentially defective rifles are now in the hands of consumers.
Problem Suspected for Decades
The gun in question is the Model 700 rifle from Remington, which has been in production in one form or another since 1962. Internal documents show that Remington’s own tests found problems with the rifle’s trigger mechanism as early as 1975, and they considered a recall by 1979. Yet nothing was done until legal action pushed the company to reach a settlement at the end of 2014.
In the years before the settlement, the company received thousands of complaints, including some from law enforcement customers, and the misfiring trigger was blamed for more than twenty deaths and hundreds of injuries. The company reached settlements with some owners, including a $17 million payout to a gun owner who was accidentally shot in the foot and required an amputation. More than 150 lawsuits are known to have been filed over injuries and deaths blamed on the Model 700’s trigger.
The original trigger mechanism—which even its designer worried was less safe than it could have been—was replaced in 2006. But the replacement trigger was also criticized, and Remington discovered that it could fire on its own up to 40 percent of the time in cold conditions, leading to a voluntary recall of 1.3 million rifles.
Critics argue, however, that Remington has done little to promote or execute the recall and has never admitted any problem with the trigger mechanism, in part because the total cost of replacement could be close to half a billion dollars.
Settlement Rejection Possible
The tiny number of rifles that have actually been repaired—roughly 22,000 of the 7.5 million made—has put the status of the class action against Remington over the Model 700 in limbo. The judge in the case has expressed concerns that the implementation of the proposed settlement has been too lenient. That small number of repairs means that an agreement anticipated to provide nearly $500 million in remedies has only cost the company “a very small payment . . . less than $3 million” says the judge. He’s expected to issue a ruling on whether the settlement is acceptable or if the class action should proceed to trial within a few weeks.
New York City Product Liability Lawyer
Any product can turn out to be defective, but responsible manufacturers act quickly to remove dangerous items from the marketplace. When a manufacturer doesn’t act, the government can step in to force a recall. When a known dangerous product is sold, affected consumers can turn to the legal system to force accountability on and win compensation from the negligent parties.
Guns have special status compared to other products, and they can only be recalled voluntarily—not by the government. However, a product liability suit can still be filed. If you or someone close to you has been harmed by a product with a defect in its design or manufacture, get in touch with someone who understands defective product law. Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP has experience with this type of case and offers a free consultation to all new clients. Call us at 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462) or contact us online through the form on this page to learn more.