Update: Remington settles lawsuit over trigger

Remington Arms Company agreed to settle in a class action suit that claims the company has knowingly used a defective trigger design that allows a gun to fire unexpectedly in many of its popular lines of bolt-action rifles.

The notice of settlement between the company and plaintiff Ian Pollard and “others similarly situated” was filed in a U.S. District Court in Missouri on July 2. According to the notice, the parties involved have until Oct. 30 to submit a formal settlement agreement for approval by the court.

While the complaint identifies plaintiffs as all individuals in Missouri who own or have owned a Remington 700 rifle manufactured with a Walker Fire Control Trigger Mechanism, it also requests that Remington recall all Model 700 rifles with the defective trigger.

In Pollard’s complaint, filed Jan. 28, 2013, he argues Remington knowingly produced rifles with defective triggers before they hit the shelves in the late 1940s and has since continued to produce them even after receiving thousands of complaints and being the subject of more than a hundred lawsuits.

The Walker Fire Control is exclusive to Remington bolt-action rifles, most notably the Model 700. The design utilizes an internal component known as a trigger “connector,” which in effect creates a unique design comprised of two distinctly different parts. The connector is not physically attached to the trigger but rather floats on top of it and is held in place by tension from a spring and the side plates.

The issue is the connector — not the trigger directly — sits under the sear, or the component that holds the bolt back until enough pressure is applied to release it. Since the connector and trigger are not physically attached, they can separate, a gap could form and dust, debris, manufacturing burrs, lubrication, moisture, etc. could get trapped between the two and throw off the alignment of the trigger and sear.

Under the right circumstances, the rifle — safety engaged or not — could fire a round without the trigger ever being pulled. According to court documents, Remington has sold more than 5 million firearms equipped with the Walker Fire Control.

Pollard, a resident of Concordia, Missouri, said his Remington 700 rifle fired unexpectedly three times since he bought it in 2000. While Pollard was not seriously injured, his complaint cited others who have been.

In 1978, John Coates, of Austin, Texas, was paralyzed by an unintended firing of his Model 600 rifle. Remington’s insurance company settled with Coates for $6.8 million.

More recently in 2000, 9-year-old Gus Barber was shot when his mother unloaded her Model 700 and it unexpectedly discharged. For her, releasing the safety discharged a round, which flew through a horse trailer and ultimately hit the boy in the hand and stomach. He later died at the hospital. Since Gus died, his parents, Richard and Barbara Barber, have been fighting Remington to recall the Model 700 and any firearms it manufactured with the Walker Trigger Control.

Remington released a statement confirming that it has agreed to pursue a classwide settlement in which it would “offer to replace certain trigger mechanisms or provide other economic relief to class members.”

“The parties are in the process of drafting a comprehensive settlement agreement and anticipate seeking preliminary judicial approval of the proposed settlement later this year,” the company added. “The parties will have no further comment until such time as the settlement is finally approved.”