Attorneys for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Unintentional SIG Sauer P320 Pistol Firings
SIG Sauer’s P320 pistol, one of the most popular handguns in America and the standard-issue sidearm for all branches of the U.S. military, is allegedly firing on its owners, wounding more than 80 people who claim they never pulled the trigger. Shockingly, no U.S. agency has the power to intervene, leaving P320 pistol owners at risk of injury or worse. The Trace, the nation’s only newsroom dedicated to covering gun violence full-time, has teamed up with The Washington Post to conduct a joint investigation into the matter.
The Issue with Some SIG Sauer P320 Pistols
Dwight Jackson, a locomotive engineer from Georgia, was getting ready to visit his favorite cigar lounge when his holstered SIG Sauer P320 pistol fired, sending a bullet through his buttock and ankle. His wife heard the shot and called an ambulance while Jackson hobbled towards the front door, leaving a trail of blood over the hardwood floors. Jackson later reported that he had not touched the trigger at any point.
The P320 has been sold to hundreds of thousands of civilians and is used by officers at over one thousand law enforcement agencies across the nation since its commercial introduction in 2014. However, more than 100 people have alleged that their P320 pistols discharged without them pulling the trigger. At least 80 people were wounded in these incidents, dating back to 2016.
Experts Believe the SIG Sauer P320 Pistol Has a Dangerous Defect
Experts like behavioral scientist Bill Lewinski, who is the executive director of the Force Science Institute and one of the leading experts on accidental shootings, believe that the number and frequency of these incidents strongly suggest a design flaw, rather than human error. These injuries range from cases of casual firearm owners firing in their homes to expert gun owners whose guns fired in busy public places like casinos and parking lots. Some victims were wounded while holstering or unholstering the P320, climbing out of vehicles, or walking down the stairs. In several cases, the P320 fired even when the victim’s hand was nowhere near it.
In response to these allegations, SIG Sauer denied that the P320 could fire without a trigger pull and cited incidents of unintentional discharges with other firearms as evidence that such issues are neither uncommon nor suggestive of a defect with the P320.
According to a response from SIG Sauer, unintentional discharges are not uncommon in either law enforcement or civilian settings and such incidents can occur with various types of firearms, not just the P320. The response also stated that unsafe handling is a common cause of unintentional discharges and that no one, including plaintiffs’ “experts,” has been able to replicate a P320 discharging without a trigger pull. The P320 complies with U.S. safety standards and is considered one of the most tested and proven handguns in history. However, experts warn that law enforcement officers face a higher risk of unintentional discharges because they are often trained to keep a round chambered in their duty weapon.
Law Enforcement Agencies Remove the SIG Sauer P320 Pistol From Service Due to Dangers
Court records and interviews show that P320 discharges have injured at least 33 officers at 18 law enforcement agencies, and at least six agencies have removed the P320 from service due to safety concerns. Jeff Webb, a certified master gunsmith who operates a gun store in a Tampa Bay suburb, has criticized the P320 as unsafe and was recently retained as an expert witness in a case against the gunmaker. Most of the incidents occurred after SIG Sauer changed the internal design of the P320 following reports that the pistol could fire when dropped and launched a voluntary upgrade program allowing gun owners to send their pistols to the company’s New Hampshire factory for modification.
Critics Warn that the SIG Sauer P320 Pistol Are Vulnerable to Unintentional Discharges
Critics of the P320, including Webb, argue that the versions used by civilians and police are essentially cocked at all times, making them vulnerable to unintentional discharges. Firearms are exempt from federal consumer safety regulations and no regulatory body has the power to investigate alleged defects or impose a mandatory recall of guns. As thousands of P320s continue to circulate in the civilian market, SIG Sauer faces lawsuits from at least 70 people who allege that the company is selling a defective product.
What is the Government Doing to Correct the Potentially Fatal Issue?
Representative John D. Dingell wrote an amendment in 1972 that prevents the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from ordering recalls of guns, because the agency lacks the authority to do so. Critics argue that this omission has put gun owners at risk, and without federal oversight, gunmakers are left to investigate reported defects and inform consumers of potential issues with their products. Manufacturers have sometimes ignored longstanding problems until facing lawsuits or negative publicity. For instance, Remington Arms and Taurus have faced class-action lawsuits over weapons with alleged defects that have injured or killed dozens of people.
SIG Sauer had faced claims of P320 malfunctions since at least 2017, when reports surfaced that the gun could fire when dropped. As noted above, in response to the incident, SIG Sauer modified the pistol’s design and launched a voluntary upgrade program. However, the company did not replace guns on store shelves or require retailers to inform customers of the firearm’s potential risks. According to court filings and a review of the firearms that discharged, at least 35 unintentional shootings involving the P320 have occurred since the upgrade program,. Victims of P320 incidents are worried that SIG Sauer will not take action to address the problem, potentially leading to more victims in the future.
Harvey Winingham, a retired Air Force veteran from Maricopa County, Arizona, wanted to avoid the risk of an unintentional discharge when he acquired his P320 in a private sale in 2018. He had it sent back to the manufacturer for an upgrade when he learned of SIG Sauer’s design change. However, two years later, as he inspected the weapon for a chambered round, it fired and shot a bullet through his hand, according to Winingham. In court documents, SIG Sauer denied that Winingham’s gun could have fired without its trigger being depressed by a finger or foreign object.
Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, has made multiple attempts to create a regulatory authority with the power to investigate reports of defective firearms and require recalls, but her proposed legislation has not yet made it to the floor for a vote. The P320 is a striker-fired handgun that is effectively fully cocked at rest, meaning the pull of its trigger does not draw the striker backward. This makes the gun vulnerable to unintentional discharge, and the few models with similar designs usually have external safeties installed to prevent them from firing. The military variant of the P320 includes a manual thumb safety. However, only one civilian-branded model of the P320 has any safety mechanism to prevent an unintentional discharge, according to a review of available P320 models on SIG Sauer’s website. Civilian models of the P320 have two internal safeties, but neither can be controlled by the user. This configuration is found in only two models of SIG Sauer pistols and is considered “uniquely dangerous” by James Tertin, a gunsmith at Magnum Research. His report was commissioned by a legal team bringing a case against SIG Sauer in Philadelphia. Tertin found that the P320’s primary internal safety was too easily disabled, leaving the pistol vulnerable to accidental discharge.
SIG Sauer Defends its P320 Pistol Instead of Initiating a Recall to Save Lives
SIG Sauer claims that the P320 has undergone extensive testing and conforms to the standards of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI), and other federal and state agencies. However, these standards are voluntary, and the NIJ and SAAMI do not require guns to include specific safety mechanisms, nor undergo endurance testing. Sean Toner, the P320 designer, has acknowledged that “U.S. standards are not very stringent.” Although there have been many lawsuits against SIG Sauer and claims of errant discharges, no one has been able to document the gun’s alleged defective discharges in a controlled setting. It is difficult to replicate mechanical failures in guns, as they often depend on slight shifts of tiny parts inside the weapon, and internal components may be distorted by temperature, moisture, or general wear when they fail. Experts argue that improper ammunition, worn holsters, or foreign objects in the trigger guards can also cause accidental discharges.
SIG Sauer P320 Pistol Lawsuits Are Being Filed Across the Nation
One lawyer representing more than 40 clients in lawsuits against SIG Sauer over the P320, stated that the sheer number of incidents confirms that there is a problem, although it is challenging to understand the precise mechanism of the P320’s failure. The attorneys argued that the gun is defective without an external safety installed and said that “SIG made design choices that left it the most dangerous gun on the market of its kind.” More lawsuits will be filed, as this problem does not appear to have a solution.
SIG Sauer wrote in response to questions that the suggestion of a discharge without a trigger pull due to slight shifts in small components of the P320 is not credible because of the extensive and rigorous testing the company, the U.S. military, federal law enforcement agencies, and other military and law enforcement agencies worldwide have conducted. The company also argued that the P320 doesn’t need an external safety device like a manual thumb safety, and users, including many law enforcement agencies, choose firearms without external safety devices based on their philosophy of use. They also ignored fundamental rules of firearms safety that would have prevented the incidents cited in the complaints.
The accidental discharge incident involving school resource officer Jonathan Cross and his SIG Sauer P320 in the cafeteria at Thomas E. Weightman Middle School in Wesley Chapel, Florida, on April 30, 2019, drew national attention and embarrassed the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Cross’s employer. Cross maintains that he didn’t pull the gun’s trigger, but the Sheriff’s Office argued that he mishandled the gun, leading to his suspension and eventual firing. Two other officers at the same department suffered injuries from their P320s that discharged in situations in which nobody pulled the triggers and they were cleared of wrongdoing. Pasco County dropped the P320 as its service weapon in 2021.
Several incidents involving unintentional discharges with the P320 have occurred, and some officers injured by the incidents expressed concerns about the P320’s susceptibility to accidental discharge. Some police departments and agencies continue to use the P320 despite these concerns. In 2020, the Milwaukee Police Department announced it would begin outfitting its officers with Glock handguns after officers reported unintentional discharges with the P320, and ICE experienced seven unintentional discharges resulting in one injury between 2017 and 2018 and a dozen unintentional discharges resulting in seven injuries after 18 months of using the P320.
Of the many cases brought against SIG Sauer due to the P320, at least five have resulted in settlements. While SIG Sauer won two cases on summary judgment and one that reached a jury verdict, the presiding judge later found SIG Sauer’s experts “unpersuasive” and “dismissive” and did not believe it was possible for the plaintiff to have pulled the trigger on his gun. Victims of the P320 press for legal relief while recovering from their physical and mental injuries.
Many of the officers injured by unintentional discharges with the P320 have hidden their injuries from others and some have suffered significant mental tolls.
GET A FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION WITH A SIG SAUER P320 PISTOL LAWSUIT LAWYER
As a law firm that is dedicated to helping people who defective products have injured, Parker Waichman LLP understands how devastating and life-altering these injuries can be. If you or someone you know has been injured by a SIG Sauer P320 pistol or any other defective product, we are here to help. Our experienced SIG Sauer P320 pistol Lawsuit Attorneys can help you navigate the legal system and fight for the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been harmed by the SIG Sauer P320 pistol, don’t hesitate to take action. Contact Parker Waichman LLP now at 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) for a free consultation. Our experienced product liability attorneys can help you understand all of your legal options and pursue the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Don’t let the big corporations get away with their negligent behavior. Call us today to receive a free, no-obligation consultation.
When you work with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Parker Waichman, your attorney will help you to seek compensation for medical bills, time taken off from work, damaged property, and other injuries and losses resulting from your unintentional pistol discharge incident. Attorneys with Parker Waichman understand the ins and outs of pursuing claims related to defective firearms and our knowledgeable attorneys have built a reputation for excellence that’s earned our firm numerous honors, including consistently high peer-review ratings and inclusion in Best Lawyers.
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