No, it’s not the next Rambo movie, wherein an ancient, arthritic vet finally loses faith with his firearms and decides to do an Erin Brockovich on Remington. The Rambo in question is Jay Rambo, an Alaskan hunter who claims he was seriously injured on September 11, 2009 when his Remington rifle went off all by itself. “His Complaint alleges that as his father was loading the .338 Caliber Model 700 Remington Rifle, it fired without the trigger being touched,” the Drinnon Law Firm asserts. “The high velocity 200 grain bullet struck Jay Rambo in the forearm as well as his right gluteus according to the complaint.” That’s his butt to you and me. The ambulance chasers—I mean contingency fee-based product liability lawyers—are all over this one. Have been for some time. With some success. But first, more details of the rifle equivalent of Steven King’s Christine . . .
In his opinion based on his investigation thus far, attorney Stephen Drinnon believes the factual evidence demonstrates that the bullet first struck the end of an open rifle case before ricocheting into Jay. He said the gun was resting on the foam of the open gun case as it was being loaded by Jay’s father, Dale Rambo.
Mr. Drinnon further opined that he believes a jury will seriously consider a finding of punitive damages based largely in part on Remington’s own documents, which he believes will demonstrate that Remington has known about the trigger’s dangerous propensity to fire without a trigger pull for decades.
Decades during which lawyers have already wrested significant settlements from the American gunmaker. Thanks in no small part to the above-mentioned documents. Click here to get to grips one of Remington’s smoking guns (so to speak).
Now how much would they pay? But wait! Here’s a description of the defect in question from drinnonlaw.com:
Remington’s trigger mechanism uses an internal component called a “connector” – a design component not used by any other rifle manufacturer. The connector floats on top of the trigger body inside of the gun, but is not physically bound to the trigger in any way other than tension from a spring. When the trigger is pulled, the connecter is pushed forward by the trigger, allowing the sear to fall and fire the rifle.
The proper position of the connector under the sear is an overlap of only 25/1000ths of an inch, but because the connector is not bound to the trigger, the connector separates from the trigger body when the rifle is fired and creates a gap between the two parts.
Any dirt, debris or manufacturing scrap can then become lodged in the space created between the connector and the trigger, preventing the connector from returning to its original position.
Remington’s defective fire control could have been redesigned to eliminate the harm or danger very inexpensively. There is no valid engineering reason why the successfully utilized connectorless designs could not have been used by Remington in its Model 700 and 710.
In fact, Remington has recently done just that for the Model 700 with a newly designed trigger, the X-Mark Pro. That design, which eliminates the connector, was completed in 2002. However, Remington chose to continue with its prior unsafe design for financial reasons, never warning the public. Even today, Remington installs the new fire control into some but not all of its bolt-action rifles, leaving many users at risk with the old and defective design.
That doesn’t sound good. Unless you’re the lawyer on the other side of the table from Remington. In which case it sounds like a cash register opening its drawers. Drinnon breathlessly (i.e. using italics) reports that Remington has quietly paid almost $20 million to settle claims out of court, finally replacing the fire control only in 2007. To wit:
In 1994, a Texas jury rendered a verdict in Collins v. Remington after Glenn Collins lost this foot to a Model 700 accidental discharge. The jury found that the fire control was defective and awarded a $15 million in exemplary damages. The total verdict was in excess of $17 million. [Click here to review Business Week article entitled “Remington Faces A Misfiring Squad”.]
Looks like Remington should have issued a recall, paid off the relevant parties and drawn a line under this. What’s the bet they set aside some cash to deal. We shall see . . .