Earlier this month, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decided an appeal that allowed a products liability case to proceed against a gun manufacturer, alleging that a faulty trigger mechanism led to an accidental shooting. In the case, O’Neal v. Remington, the plaintiff was a woman whose husband was killed in an accidental shooting when he and several friends were hunting.
According to the court’s written opinion, the accident took place back in 2008 and involved a Remington rifle that was originally made with a “Walker trigger” mechanism. The Walker trigger mechanism was used dating back to the 1970s, and since then it had come under criticism for causing the gun to fire when the safety is off but without the trigger being pulled. However, despite evidence that a problem with the mechanism existed, Remington determined not to recall the roughly 20,000 rifles made with the trigger.
On the day in question, the plaintiff’s husband was out hunting with friends. He allowed one of his hunting buddies to use his Remington rifle, and, when the group spotted a deer, the friend pulled out the borrowed rifle. However, as he did so, the rifle accidentally discharged, killing the gun’s owner. The deceased’s wife filed suit against Remington, as the manufacturer of the gun.
Remington’s Defense to the Products Liability Action
At trial, Remington asserted that it was the plaintiff’s burden to show that the gun actually had a Walker trigger installed, rather than one of the many aftermarket options available. Remington argued that the gun had gone through several owners since it left the company’s control, and there was no affirmative evidence that the mechanism in place at the time of the accident was the Walker trigger. The trial court agreed with Remington, and the plaintiff appealed.
Circumstantial Evidence Is Sufficient to Prove the Product Left the Factory with the Walker Trigger
The federal appellate court disagreed with the lower court and found for the plaintiff. The court noted that there was ample circumstantial evidence to show that the gun did have a Walker trigger mechanism installed at the time of the accident. The court pointed to the fact that the police reports completed after the accident listed the aftermarket parts, but no mention was made of any aftermarket trigger mechanism. Also, the court found it persuasive that, had an aftermarket trigger been installed, it would have been to avoid this exact situation. Thus, the court determined that there was circumstantial evidence to prove that the “alleged defect was present at the time of manufacture and was not the result of a subsequent alteration or modification.”
Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Product?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a defective product, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for any injuries sustained as a result of the product’s negligent design or manufacturing. However, you should expect that your claims will be met with firm resistance from the allegedly responsible parties. To ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the trial process, contact one of the dedicated Maryland personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. The skilled advocates at Lebowitz & Mzhen have hundreds of cases under their belt and are eager to speak with you about yours. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Man Sues Wal-Mart after Allegedly Faulty Boots Cause Serious Injury, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 23, 2015
State Supreme Court Finds in Favor of Slip-and-Fall Victim on Sovereign Immunity Issue, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 7, 2015