Gun Manufacturer Liability In Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Gun manufacturers are granted broad immunity from personal injury claims involving the use of their weapon as intended. It can therefore be quite difficult to file a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer. Many have tried, including victims of mass shootings who allege that the product was being used as intended, but created a risk to the public. These lawsuits have never found merit in the U.S. Courts where gun ownership and rights are sacrosanct. While you can sue an individual for negligently discharging a weapon, you cannot sue the manufacturer unless the gun itself is defective.
Sig Sauer is facing a handful of lawsuits over their P320 model, some of which have been filed by police officers who use the weapon as part of their duties. According to the lawsuits, the gun has a hair-trigger that can go off when you least expect it. In one case, a police officer shot himself in the leg while his holstered gun remained stable by his side. The gun simply went off without warning.
According to the lawsuit, four boys stole the gun from a police officer’s residence while he was away. While playing with the gun, it went off, killing one of the four boys. The parents have since filed a lawsuit against Sig Sauer under a product liability theory. Even though the boys unlawfully acquired the gun, there is a history of the gun’s problems and Sig Sauer is facing multiple lawsuits. That means they may have to pay out this lawsuit too. One of the teen’s friends has been charged with manslaughter over the accident.
“Known design flaw”
Sig Sauer has known about the defect and offered owners a “voluntary upgrade” of the safety features that would purportedly prevent this from happening again. Sig Sauer has only admitted that “dropping” the weapon could result in unwanted discharge. However, the allegations against the gun company go much further than that. Further, the complaint states that any modifications to the original design did not go far enough to prevent the gun from going off randomly.
Sig Sauer was named in the lawsuit alongside the Florida vendor where the firearm was purchased. While Sig Sauer’s role in the wrongful death is clearly established, it remains to be seen what kind of liability the vendor will face.
Meanwhile, the officer whose gun was stolen was not charged with a crime, but he did face a one-week suspension for failing to secure the gun on his property while he was away. The boy charged with manslaughter was able to reduce the charges to the extent that he will not have to serve jail time given that the gun had an obvious and traceable flaw that contributed to the death. However, all four of the teen boys committed a crime meaning that they could be assigned some of the negligence, reducing their award. Jurors will note they shouldn’t have been playing with the gun in the first place.
Talk to a Tampa Product Liability Lawyer Today
The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of plaintiffs in injury claims against negligent manufacturers. Call our Tampa personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your injuries in more detail.