June 25, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Like any other consumer product, defectively designed and manufactured firearms can be dangerous to their users. Unlike other consumer products, however, guns are not subject to federal health and safety regulations, meaning that the federal government is powerless to issue consumer warnings and/or recall defective firearms. Instead, the gun manufacturers must take these important steps on their own.
Unfortunately, some gun manufacturers decide it is not in their financial interests to issue a recall and remove their dangerous products from the consumer market. The case of the Remington Model 700 rifle is a notorious example of one gun company's blatant disregard for the safety of its customers.
Defective Design of the Remington Model 700 Rifle
The Model 700 rifle suffers from a serious design defect, sometimes compounded by manufacturing defects that causes the rifle to fire without pulling the trigger. The source of the defect is an internal component in the trigger mechanism called the "trigger connector." The trigger connector is what allows the gun to fire once the trigger has been pulled. This system is known as the Walker Fire Control System and Remington is the only gun manufacturer in the world to use it.
The problem with the trigger connector is that the resiliently mounted trigger connector is not bound to the actual trigger. This means that when the trigger is pulled and the gun is fired, a gap is created between the trigger body and the connector. Dirt, debris, dried lubricant and other material then can become lodged in this gap, preventing the trigger connector from returning to a secure and reliable position after the gun is fired. This, in turn, can permit the fire control to malfunction to produce a discharge when the trigger is not pulled.
The three most common scenarios for the fire control to malfunction are:
- When the user moves the safety switch from the "safe" mode to the "fire" mode
- When the user loads a new round into the breech (Fire closing the bolt)
- When the user cycles the bolt to eject a spent casing (Fire opening the bolt)
Internal company documents revealed that Remington has known about the defective conditions since at least 1979 and documents discussing the Walker Fire Control System when it was first designed in the 1940s signal the company's knowledge of the dangers even then. The company even created a Product Safety Subcommittee to evaluate the M700 and the mountain of consumer complaints Remington had received about the gun. However, Remington made a decision at that time not to recall the rifle because the defect was estimated only to affect 1 percent of the two million M700s that had been sold up until that time. The company decided it was too costly to recall two million rifles "just" to find the 20,000 which would manifest the defect. However, while a statistical analysis suggested only 1 percent would experience a malfunction, all the center fire rifles Remington has produced since March of 1948, with the exception of the Model 788, have the same design and are all susceptible to these forms of malfunction.
Despite its knowledge of the defect, Remington did not stop using the Walker Fire Control System in its bolt action rifles until 2007, even though the company had developed a safer alternative to the trigger connector as early as 1997. When Remington considered a new rifle, the Model 710 in the late 1990s, Remington also had designed a new fire control system that did not include trigger connectors. However, after the gun manufacturer discovered how expensive it was going to be to produce the new rifle with the new trigger mechanism, Remington decided to continue using the old Walker system in the new rifle, despite knowing the inherent dangers the trigger connector posed to consumers.
Media Attention, Lawsuits Do Little to Encourage Remington to Admit Wrongdoing
It is estimated that over five million Americans still own a Remington M700 or M710 rifle with the defective Walker Fire Control System. Despite reports in the national media about the dangerousness of these rifles -- including a 2001 investigation by the CBS Evening News -- Remington still has not issued a consumer recall, or public warning of the defective guns.
Even a flurry of legal action and several high profile lawsuits have not encouraged the gun manufacturer to recall the rifles. After a $17 million jury verdict against Remington in 1994, the company has been settling legal claims with those who have been injured by the gun instead of risking another big jury award. These include two recent settlements negotiated by Kansas-City based law firm Monsees Miller Mayer Presley & Amick in the amounts of $250,000 and $1.425 million. One of the firm's partners, Rich Miller, has been instrumental in settling dozens of lawsuits against Remington for harm caused by M700 and M710 rifles.
(Rich Miller passed away in 2006 after successfully litigating dozens of lawsuits against Remington. After his death, the prosecution of claims against Remington for injuries arising from defective Remington bolt-action rifles has been undertaken by Tim Monsees, who remains the only trial attorney to proceed to trial against Remington regarding the Walker Fire Control since Rich Miller's successful verdict in 1994).
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective Remington Model 700 or 710 rifle, contact an experienced attorney today. Without federal protections to keep consumers safe from defective firearms, it is up to the legal system to fulfill this important role and provide this protection.
Article provided by Monsees, Miller, Mayer, Presley & Amick
Visit us at www.mmmpalaw.com