Court Considers Causation Issues in Defective Gun Case

If someone is killed by a gunshot when no one else was around, a lot of questions are left unanswered. It can be unclear whether it was an accident or whether the victim intended to take his own life. Even if it was an accident, it may be unclear what caused the gun to go off. Was it the victim’s own mistake, or was the gun defective? If a plaintiff wants to sue a gun manufacturer due to a defect, it can be a difficult case to prove. Plaintiffs often have to rely on experts to explain the defect and the cause of the accident.

weapon-1038954_960_720In a recent case, a plaintiff struggled with these issues when she filed suit against Remington Arms Company, a gun manufacturer, after her husband died from a gunshot wound while hunting by himself. The plaintiff alleged that her husband died due to a defect in his gun, a Remington Model 700 bolt action rifle. After he failed to respond to text messages from his family, a family member went to look for him where he had been hunting. He was found dead in a tree stand with a single gunshot wound to his chest. His rifle was found on the ground 15 feet below where he was. The rifle’s safety mechanism was off, there was a spent cartridge casing in the chamber of the rifle, and there was a rope attached to the rifle.

The plaintiff’s expert had filed a report stating that the rifle fired due to a defect in its trigger system. The Remington Model 700 rifle includes a “Walker” fire control system. This particular fire control system was unique because it included a specially designed trigger mechanism. According to the expert, rifles with “Walker triggers” had fired unexpectedly before. He stated that because of the unique design, dirt, moisture, or other residue could cause the connector within the rifle to fail to return to its proper position—which then caused the rifle to fire. He stated that there was residue in the plaintiff’s husband’s rifle and that it could have hit a tree, the ground, or the rope, causing it to fire.

On appeal, the plaintiff challenged a lower court’s decision to exclude testimony from the plaintiff’s expert. The court of appeals reversed, finding that the expert testimony should have been included. The court stated that the man appeared to have been holding a rope to lower or raise the rifle at the time it went off. It also stated that the plaintiff’s expert explained that in his opinion, the plaintiff did not pull the trigger, and the gun had accidentally gone off. Thus, based on his explanations for his conclusions, a federal court of appeals reversed the previous summary judgment decision, allowing the case to proceed.

Defective Gun Law in Illinois

Any type of product can be defective, but a dangerous weapon can have devastating consequences. Gun malfunctions caused by defective design or manufacturing can cause serious injuries or deaths. In Illinois, if a gun manufacturer defectively designs or manufactures a gun, and causes an injury, the gun manufacturer can be held liable. There could even be a claim due to inadequate labeling. In all of these cases, a claim can be made against the gun manufacturer to pursue damages.

Have You or a Family Member Been Injured by a Gun?

If you have been injured, or a family member has been killed in an accident, you may be able to bring a product liability claim against the gun manufacturer for defective design, defective manufacturing, or inadequate labeling. As this case demonstrated, defective gun cases can be very complicated and difficult to prove. In order to effectively address all of the issues in these cases, you need an experienced lawyer handling your case. At Moll Law Group, our lawyers have experience representing victims of defective products. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

See More Posts:

Recent Case Discusses How Settlement Terms Can Bar All Future Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, March 1, 2016.

Safer Technologies in Cars, But Not For Everyone, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2016.

Illinois Protects Police with Partial Immunity in Police Misconduct Cases, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 16, 2016.