Man files suit against gun manufacturer after being shot in the leg

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Nov. 11, 2009, 4:00pm

MARSHALL � A Washington resident claims a gun manufacturer is responsible for his hunting buddy shooting him in the leg and has filed a lawsuit seeking more than $75,000.

Thomas Dean Hull was shot in the right leg when the man he was hunting with attempted to unload a rifle. The bullet passed through a truck, split into pieces and lodged into Hull's leg.

Hull states his hunting friend did not pull the trigger but the gun misfired when the rifle's bolt was opened.

Hull filed a product liability lawsuit against Remington Arms Co. Inc. on Nov. 10 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Manufactured before 1982, the gun at issue is a Remington Model 700 bolt action rifle and utilizes a "Walker" fire control system.

The plaintiff alleges that the "Remington Model 700 bolt action rifle contains a dangerously defective "Walker" fire control system that may (and often does) fire without a trigger pull upon release of the safety, movement of the bolt, or when jarred or bumped."

The lawsuit alleges that Remington continues to place the "Walker" fire control design although it has designed a safer trigger mechanism that is installed into some of its rifles.

The complaint argues that the gun manufacturer is strictly liable because the gun "was not merchantable and reasonably suited to the use intended at the time of its manufacture or sale."

Further, the plaintiff states that neither he nor his hunting buddy expected that the gun would fire unless the trigger was engaged. The plaintiff states that he did not have a reason to suspect that the rifles were unreasonably dangerous because Remington allegedly failed to warn of the gun's dangerous condition.

Causes of action filed against the defendant include strict liability, negligence and failure to warn.

The plaintiff alleges that Remington will not recall the millions of defective rifles because of financial strain and a "profits over safety" mentality.

"No government agency can force Remington to recall its product, and Remington has made its internal customer service advisors aware of that fact. It is only through the court system that Remington may be made to answer for its product," the lawsuit states.

"Remington's actions clearly reflect willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or an entire want of care that raises a presumption of conscious indifference to consequences," the complaint states.

According to the allegations, the defendant has known of the defect for sixty years and has over 4,000 documented complaints of unintended discharge and has paid over $20 million in settlements to "injured consumers."

The plaintiff is seeking more than $75,000 in damages for medical expenses, mental anguish and physical pain and suffering.

Seeking punitive damages, the plaintiffs argue that Remington is aware of the risk of the fire control mechanism but "nevertheless proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, and welfare of others."

Dallas attorney Stephen W. Drinnon of The Drinnon Law Firm, PLLC and Jeffrey W. Hightower, Jr. of the Hightower Law Firm are representing the plaintiffs.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No: 2:2009cv00352

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