A coalition of attorneys general from across the United States are backing an effort to overturn a class action settlement against firearms manufacturer Remington.
The attorneys general claim the terms of the settlement were too lenient, as they allowed Remington to downplay the danger their defective devices posed to the public.
The sweeping class action culminated in a multi-million dollar settlement. Remington also promised to fix its 700 series rifles free of charge.
The Remington 700 bolt-action rifle – the gun central to the suit – allegedly contains a defect allowing the weapon to be discharged without pulling the trigger.
Despite paying out to disgruntled plaintiffs, Remington managed to avoid admitting wrongdoing. Throughout the life of the suit, the manufacturer steadfastly claimed its firearms are safe and that they only offered to settle to avoid a drawn-out legal battle.
U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith, who presided over the case, voiced concerns over the conditions of the settlement before approving it.
“If the settlement is approved, Remington is absolved of close to half a billion dollars in potential liability […] at a cost of less than $3 million,” said Smith to both parties in court. “That is a very small payment for Remington in this case.”
Smith also seemed wary of how few gun-owners were poised to take Remington up on its offer to replace the faulty trigger mechanism at issue.
An investigation by CNBC demonstrated how the Remington 700 rifle could be fired or accidentally discharged without its handler pulling the trigger.
YouTuber ‘charlesandsally’ demonstrates how a Remington 700 rifle can be easily jostled to fire without the trigger being pulled.
The network claimed the defect had resulted in two dozen deaths and over 100 injuries.
Despite Smith’s initial reservations, he approved the settlement and dismissed arguments seeking to halt the settlement’s approval.
“Clearly, the not so subtle message is that ‘Your gun is safe; don’t waste your time or part with your gun for purposes of this meritless defect claim by greedy lawyers’,” wrote two Remington 700 owners who sought to injunct the settlement.
Smith said that, although he was concerned by the few Remington 700 owners moving forward to repair their rifles, he felt the manufacturer and the plaintiffs had made ‘reasonable’ efforts to notify consumers of the defect.
The Trace reports that the suit against Remington was one of only two instances in which a gun manufacturer has ever agreed to recall a faulty firearm.
Restrictions on firearm regulation in the United States means that manufacturers are exempt from many of the same oversight processes foisted onto other companies.
“The result is an only-in-America reality: Paintball guns are more strictly regulated by the government, but the genuine article is generally bought and sold with no agency tasked with ensuring the product functions safely,” said Catherine Dunn, investigate report for the International Business Times, in 2015.
Recall notices sent out to Remington 700 owners stressed that the recall was voluntary.
At the very end of the page was a note recommending that owners stop using their firearm.