Remington ordered to pay $500,000 in personal injury case

A federal judged ruled against Remington Arms in a personal injury case despite arguments that the gun maker is protected under Louisiana law.

Judge Ivan Lemelle ruled that the case has merit under the Louisiana Products Liability Act, saying the law protects gun makers from lawsuits except in cases involving a defective firearm. He awarded $500,000 to the plaintiff, Precious Seguin, for her claim holding Remington liable for producing a defective product.

According to court documents, Seguin was injured during a hunting excursion in October 2013. As she tracked the blood trail of a wounded deer with her father, brother and a family friend, her father’s Remington 710 bolt-action rifle discharged as they made their way through the brush. The bullet struck her right buttock, traveled through her hip and exited through her right elbow.

The lawsuit argues the rifle’s trigger design, the infamous Walker Fire Control, a mechanism that has been linked to almost a dozen deaths and numerous injuries, allowed the gun to discharge without the pull of a trigger. In Seguin’s case, her father had the rifle strapped over his shoulder and pointed upward until a branch knocked it up and backward, at which time the safety moved to the fire position and unintentionally discharged. Before Seguin was injured, they had not experienced an unintentional discharge with the rifle.

Lemelle noted Remington’s challenge to Seguin’s use of the LPLA. Attorneys for the company argued that a branch had caused the rifle to discharge. They said independent tests showed that the rifle could only be fired by pulling the trigger, and investigators concluded that in the incident the trigger had either caught on an object or had been mishandled. Also, they cited a statement by Seguin’s father who told law enforcement a tree branch pulled the trigger.

Seguin filed the lawsuit in October 2014, a year after the accident. The initial complaint had a broader list of allegations and plaintiffs, but Seguin filed an amended complaint that narrowed the scope of her arguments.

Remington’s WFC trigger has been the subject of more than 4,000 documented complaints, according to court documents. For about half a century, Remington has equipped millions of rifles and shotguns with the design. In March, the gun maker completed a settlement with a class action lawsuit in which it had to remove possible defective rifles out of circulation. In all, Remington paid out $12.5 million because of a low claims rate.