In a first-of-its kind ruling, a federal judge recently ruled against Remington Arms in a Louisiana personal injury/design defects case. Although Remington argued that it was immune under the Louisiana Products Liability Act, the judge ultimately ruled that the Act protects gun makers from lawsuits except in cases involving defective firearms, and awarded $500,000 to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff in the case was allegedly injured when the Remington 710 bolt-action rifle discharged and traveled through her body. She and her family argued that the rifle’s trigger design—Walker Fire Control, which has been linked to almost a dozen death and numerous injuries at this point—allowed the gun to discharge without someone actively pulling the trigger. The rifle was allegedly being carried over someone else’s shoulder when the safety was lodged into fire mode by a branch, leading the rifle to unintentionally discharge.
A History of Injuries and Death
Remington’s Walker Fire Control trigger has been the subject of more than 4,000 legal complaints such that, in March of this year, the company entered into a settlement requiring it to remove all possibly defective rifles out of circulation and pay $12.5 million.
The Louisiana Products Liability Act states that a claimant may not recover from a manufacturer for damage caused by a product on the basis of any theory of liability not set forth below (where, even if it is a service, even if that service results in a product):
- Providers of professional services;
- Providers of nonprofessional services where the essence of the service is the furnishing of judgment or skill;
- Producers of natural fruits and other raw products in their natural state that are derived from animals, fowl, aquatic life, or invertebrates (including but not limited to milk, eggs, honey, and wool);
- Farmers and other producers of agricultural plants in their natural state;
- Ranchers and other producers of animals, fowl, aquatic life, or invertebrates in their natural state; and
- Harvesters and other products of fish, crawfish, oysters, crabs, mollusks, or other aquatic animals in their natural state.
However, the judge ultimately ruled that this did not exempt the alleged defect in this case due to Louisiana laws on products that are unreasonably dangerous in design, which state that a product is unreasonably dangerous in design if, at the time the product is left in its manufacturer’s control:
- There existed an alternative design for the product was capable of preventing the claimant’s damage; and
- The likelihood that the product’s design would cause the claimant’s damage and the gravity of that damage outweighed the burden on the manufacturer of adopting such alternative design and the adverse effect, if any, of such alternative design on the utility of the product. An adequate warning about a product is considered in evaluating the likelihood of damage when the manufacturer has used reasonable care to provide the adequate warning to users and handlers of the product.
Personal Injury and Product Liability Attorneys Serving Louisiana
Laws cannot shield companies from behaving wantonly or recklessly, causing individuals to get injured. In many circumstances, they are on notice that a particular product already has injured or killed many people and should be fixed or completely taken off the market.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a product, we can help. Our personal injury attorneys have helped many victims in New Orleans, Kenner, Metairie, and throughout Louisiana obtain financial compensation for their injuries. We will work to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair recovery if your injury has been caused by some else not being responsible. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out more.