Autumn is here in Montana and that means that many lovers of the outdoors will be looking forward to hunting season. For generations, hunters in Montana often preferred Remington rifles as their weapon of choice for big-game hunting. Several years ago, however, the Remington Model 700 rifle was recalled following a class action lawsuit.
The Remington lawsuit
A class action lawsuit regarding defective Remington rifles was settled in 2018, with Remington agreeing to replace the trigger in the rifle at no cost to the owner. The trigger, known as the “Walker” trigger, in Remington Model 700 rifles is defective and will cause a rifle to fire without the operator pulling the trigger. This defect has led to dozens of fatalities and hundreds of serious injuries. The settlement covers approximately 7.5 million firearms dating back to the 1940’s, the Model 700 included. The settlement only covers economic damages, meaning that people can still pursue a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit based on the defect.
Was there a coverup?
An investigation by CNBC, “Remington Under Fire”, alleges Remington had covered up the reported defect for many years, despite overwhelming evidence that the rifles will fire unexpectedly without a trigger pull. For example, Remington’s internal documents show that Remington received on average more than 5 reports a week for a period of 28 years that a Remington rifle fired without a trigger pull. Remington’s internal documents also acknowledge that the number of reports of unintended firings are constantly increasing. The likelihood of one of these rifles firing without a trigger pull increases over time. Just because a particular rifle has not fired without a trigger pull in the past does not mean that it will not do so in the future.
Montana boy allegedly killed by defective rifle
This class action settlement hits close to home for many in Montana as it came 18 years following the death of a Montana boy, age nine, who lost his life in a hunting accident. The boy’s mother was unloading her Model 700 rifle when it went off when she released the safety. She had to release the safety to unload the rifle. She did not touch the trigger. The stray bullet went through a horse trailer and struck her son who was on the other side. The boy was seriously wounded and died. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Remington, which Remington settled.
Even safety-conscious hunters can be harmed
Gun safety is important for many experienced hunters in Montana, but not all accidents can be prevented. A stray bullet unexpectedly fired from a defective rifle is a dangerous situation. Gun handlers sometimes believe that they always have their firearm pointed in a safe direction, but in real life that is simply not possible. A hunting accident can be due to the negligence of the gun handler but it can also be due to a defective rifle. The Remington settlement serves as a good reminder that there are rights and options for justice if someone is killed or injured by a defective firearm.