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SIG Sauer Asks Judge to Dismiss Proposed Class Action Suit

Rouven74/Wikimedia Commons

Lawyers for SIG Sauer told a federal court judge in Concord Monday that a proposed class action lawsuit concerning the company’s popular P320 pistol should be dismissed because the plaintiff wasn’t harmed by the weapon.

Last September, Derick Ortiz of Snowflake, Arizona, filed a proposed class action suit alleging the P320 pistol he purchased in 2016 for approximately $500 could inadvertently discharge when handled incorrectly or dropped. 

In his complaint, Ortiz says he wouldn’t have purchased a P320, or would have paid less, had he been aware of the alleged design flaw.

[You can read NHPR's previous coverage of SIG Sauer here.]

In 2017, a prominent online gun shop pulled the P320 from its shelves, citing its concern the weapon could fire if dropped from the wrong angle. Multiple P320 owners, including several law enforcement officers, have been injured when their P320 allegedly discharged without a trigger pull.

Lawyers for the company, however, told Judge Joseph Laplante on Monday that while the gun does “have a vulnerability” if dropped from a certain angle, the company has offered owners a free voluntary upgrade to remedy the potential safety issue. 

“There is no ‘there’ there,” said Robert Joyce, one of SIG’s attorneys, when describing any injury suffered by Ortiz. 

But lawyers for Ortiz say the company was slow to act after first discovering the defect in 2016, and that his injury is “economic” because of a perceived lower resale value for the weapon.

“We have a real safety issue on our hands,” attorney Joseph Marchese told the court. 

The company continues to state that the weapon is safe in its original version.

The U.S. Army first discovered the risk of potential discharge in April 2016, while the weapon was being considered as the new standard issue sidearm for soldiers. Ortiz alleges that SIG Sauer, which has headquarters in Newington, made necessary modifications to the military version of the P320, which went on to win the lucrative Army contract, but didn’t alter the civilian version for another year.

Ortiz's lawyers claim there are more than 300,000 unmodified P320s in circulation, though that number has not been verified.

The German-owned gun maker has settled previous suits brought by members of law enforcement seriously injured when their department-issued P320 allegedly fired without a trigger pull. 

Judge Laplante told the court at the outset of Monday's hearing that he thought he may be a member of the proposed class when he first read the lawsuit. In fact, Laplante purchased a different SIG Sauer -- a  model P226 -- several years ago that he gave to his son.

He said he will issue a ruling on the motion to dismiss the proposed class action suit as soon as he can. 

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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