Late Friday night, we broke the news that Kevin Brittingham had prevailed in his lawsuit against the Freedom Group. The interest in that bit of news has been high, from both consumers and people within the industry. Saturday afternoon Kevin gave me a call and wanted to discuss what happened in a little more detail than can be expressed through a screenshot of an email . . .

The lawsuit itself clearly took a toll on Kevin and his family. Starting with being thrown out of a company that Kevin founded, the entire experience has been emotionally draining. “I can’t imagine worse than a big corporation screwing with you and your family,” Kevin said. At the time of his dismissal Kevin was still owed millions of dollars from the sale of Advanced Armament to Remington, plus millions more in back pay and other financial obligations. Freedom Group failed to pay any of that and by the terms of his contract, he was barred from working in the industry for a number of years under a non-compete clause.

The reason for the firing, according to Freedom Group, was that Kevin had some of his personal firearms on premises at Advanced Armament which was against company policy, as well as other ATF policy violations. As Kevin points out, it was “complete bullshit” and he sued Freedom Group, alleging that the termination was trumped-up, that Freedom Group was in breach of their contract and that they owed him a considerable amount of money.

It took nearly a year and a half for the suit to make it to trial. Throughout the whole process Kevin was waiting for them to offer to settle for a lesser amount, but the offer never came. Instead, Freedom Group cranked up their legal department and tried to muscle him into dropping the suit. FG even went so far as to hire a private investigator and watched his family in an attempt to discredit him personally in court rather than fighting the allegations on their face. The amount of money they threw at the suit was staggering. “I spent $2 to $3 million on my lawyer,” Kevin said, “and they had 20 attorneys.” Add in the private investigators and other costs and Kevin estimates that FG spent upwards of $10 million on their defense.

The suit was heard during a bench trial in which a judge would decide the case and could question the witnesses brought by each side. As Kevin puts it, “Freedom Group’s lawyer was the only one not to realize that the judge was the smartest person in the room.” He was truly impressed by the speed at which this New York City-based judge picked up on firearms law and saw how untenable Freedom Group’s position was. “When she started questioning them, it became apparent” that the jig was up for FG. “She was shocked that they fired me two or three days before Christmas, and I don’t think the timing of this ruling was an accident.”

Under New York law, Kevin is entitled not only to the lump sum of cash that was contractually due him, but also 9% interest per year on the unpaid funds. Add to that the fact that Freedom Group has to foot the bill for Kevin’s legal defense and it’s a very pretty penny.

Still, the ruling isn’t final — Freedom Group has the option to appeal. According to Kevin, “I hope that they appeal until my kids have to go to college. Because interest keeps ticking.” Kevin added with a chuckle, “I feel more like a Remington executive than ever, sitting around doing nothing and being paid for it.”

Kevin says that the response has been enormous since news of the ruling broke. Someone from almost every major firearms company has been on his phone talking to him about opportunities for the future, from jobs to venture capital funding. But Kevin hasn’t made up his mind on what he wants to do yet. “After sitting on the sidelines for two years, I’m ready to get back to work. I want to get back into the culture, where I can be creative and useful. I’m an entrepeneur, I want to be creative. Making a lot of money was great, but that wasn’t the reason I started AAC.”

The more he talked, the more he seemed drawn to the idea of starting over, not being constrained by old ideas and choices. “Having a fresh start somewhere, I can’t imagine a better feeling.” When he was first fired from AAC, he talked a lot about starting a new silencer company in the warehouse next door to AAC and driving them into the ground. “In 12 months, I can be bigger than AAC. Guaranteed.” But he’s softened on that idea a bit since.

In the end, Kevin seems to be taking a more wait-and-see approach to job hunting. “I could have gone back to work yesterday,” he says, “and I want to go back so badly.” But having been once-bitten by Freedom Group, he’s cautious about getting into another relationship that could end badly. We discussed a couple of options, but in each case he kept coming back to the idea that he needed it to be the right fit, a “marriage” as he puts it, that lets him do what he wants to. Somewhere where he can “understand the customer, value these relationships, work with the team and develop things that will really help.”

Making a good product concerns him more than a title. “I don’t have to have ‘president’ on my business card, I don’t mind not being in charge.” The ability to be creative seems to be valued higher than making money. “I don’t have to work another day in my life” he says, “but I want to. I want to understand and create products that they write solicitations around.”

46 Responses to Kevin Brittingham Talks to TTAG About His Victory Over Freedom Group

  1. Don’t you love it when a bunch of smart##es get what is coming to them? It took a lot of courage for KB to stand up for what he KNEW was right.

    • Oh yeah. It’s always heartening to see a bunch of slobbering assholes get their faces rubbed in it. Doesn’t happen all that often, especially in liberal NY courts.

      Hopefully they don’t appeal and just eat it.

      • Courts in NY are far from anti-plaintiff. Besides, this was a Federal case. Left or right had no bearing on the issues.

    • It is the holiday season, you know. The people that write here get time off, too, and filler stories are one way to make that happen. Robert’s in another country, for chrissakes. Aside from that, because its the holidays, there’s very little of substance happening anywhere, from industry to Washington. The manufacturers aren’t doing anything either, because they’re all in “ramping up to SHOT Show” mode.

      You’re welcome to write up and send in anything you want, if you want to improve on the content being provided. Submissions are always welcome.

    • Life is indeed a bitch when the free ice cream dries up, eh? Perhaps you have a little too much time on your hands and don’t know how the positively direct your energies? These guys work hard to bring us the very best gun site available in the blog – o – sphere and it’s not exactly like they’re raking in the wheelbarrows of cash from the merchants of death in the gun lobby. Imagine what TTAG could do if they had, say, the annual earnings of Wayne the Magnificent. Lighten up, dude, and cut ’em some slack for the holidays.

    • You know, you can always send your stories to TTAG if you dislike the content being posted here so much. Or you can read another blog and stop being an entitled twit, too.

  2. That’s more than enough startup capital for a new company, if they pay him soon. I would love to see him start again instead of working for a larger parent corporation, it never seems to work out well when the board doesn’t have any of the founder’s vision.

    Similar thing happened to Erik Buell in the motorcycle business, and it’s taken him years to recover, production wise.

    • Love my Lightning and can’t wait for EBR to release more of their street lineup. I thought about looking European for my next sport bike, but I love Buell products too much!

  3. wow, so you mean Cerberus can’t run a manufacturing company? We had no idea… wait, didn’t they… Chrysler… Nardelli.

    No good can come from this.

    • He didn’t “stick it” to them. He got what he deserved based on contractual obligations they thought they could get around being the slimeballs they seem to be.

      • Given that they’ll have to pay his legal fees on top of what they’ve already expended, and they’re instructed to pay 9% interest as long as the debt remains unpaid… yea, FG got smacked down pretty hard. They went into this thinking they were going to stiff the guy or at least run him into the poor house on his legal fees, but they made a very poor choice.

        Someone who made the decision inside FG to play hardball is probably going to be looking for a new job soon.

  4. So wait, the Freedom Group is a bunch of assholes? I find this hard to believe. Good on Brittingham for seeing it through, seems like he had a good thing going and F*cking Group tried to screw him over. Maybe prettyboy Kollitides (however you spell it) won’t buy so many jäger-bombs tonight, and several innocent coeds will return home having not been overly groped and pelvic-thrusted while listening to sh*tty techno.

  5. Big corporations buying smaller businesses never seems to end well. Once the min-max bean counters get entrenched they kill innovation and stifle initiative. Companies need to start looking at long term longevity rather than quarterly profit. Unfortunately this would also take a change in mentality of investors.

  6. There is so much innovation contained in the seemingly innocuous picture chosen for this article that it’s staggering. Talk about two guys you’d love to spend a range day with.

  7. Bravo and congratulations to Mr. Brittingham.

    Can’t wait to see what ideas, concepts, working things will come.
    Hopefully, FG will just shut up and pay up. That interest WILL have an effect on stock dividends.

  8. And George K was soooo freaking close to getting on the NRA Board of Directors. Out of 76 directors how many are like Mr. K?

  9. Good for him.

    I do love it when the good guy wins against a giant corporation bully. They seem to think they can do anything they want because of their money – sadly that happens far too often these days, which makes this victory all the sweeter!

    Well done Kevin!

    • “Your cash ain’t nothin’ but trash.” Steve Miller

      There’s a lot more money around than good ideas. That almost never changes.

      It takes guts, though, to bear the legal costs up front. I admire that.

    • From Wikipedia:

      Advanced Armament Corporation
      Barnes Bullets
      Bushmaster Firearms International
      Dakota Arms
      DPMS Panther Arms
      H & R Firearms
      Marlin
      Mountain Khakis
      Para USA[6]
      Parker Gunmakers
      Remington Arms
      Remington Military
      Remington LE
      Remington PMPD
      TAPCO

      • While I firmly believe the FG deserved the court mandated face f**king they’re getting as well as believing big corporations are the enemy of small business and innovation… They do have their place.

        Large corporations may be instrumental in the fight to protect the firearms freedoms we still have left in the near future.

        I think they need to be taken down a notch or two but I wouldn’t want to see them obliterated completely because of what it could mean to the bigger picture. I don’t know where the line is.

    • I don’t get why people aren’t already avoiding everything that Freedom Group owns. In addition to the way they have treated Kevin, they have fired everyone at Bushmaster and Marlin and had Remington start making all of the guns for those brands, and they have allowed the quality of the guns they make to go to crap. 870s are rusting and Marlin guns have been junk with poor fit and finish ever since the New Haven plant was shut down.

  10. Good deal that he won his case. Thing is, if and when FG pays up it won’t really come from them, they will simply pass that cost on to their customers through higher prices. That’s what corporations do.

  11. F*ck FG. Good on ya Kevin… A good guy that got what’s owed him, and a man who obviously exemplifies a true made in the USA, man of the gun. Bravo.

  12. Like those before, I applaud the outcome of Kevin’s struggles against the giant FG. Now if Marlin still had owners like that…….

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