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Judge Declines To Dismiss Proposed Class Action Suit Against SIG Sauer

Todd Bookman/NHPR

A proposed class action lawsuit against Newington-based gun manufacturer SIG Sauer has cleared a key procedural hurdle. In an order issued Monday, a federal court judge ruled against the company’s motion to dismiss.

Derick Ortiz of Snowflake, Arizona filed a proposed class action suit last September alleging the P320 pistol he purchased for approximately $500 could inadvertently discharge when dropped, due to an alleged design flaw.

In his lawsuit, Ortiz says he wouldn’t have purchased a P320, or would have paid less, had he been aware of the drop fire issue. 

In February, lawyers for the German-owned arms maker argued in federal court in Concord that Ortiz has suffered no harm, and that the company is already offering a mechanical fix to all P320s, free of charge.

Lawyers for Ortiz told the court that while Ortiz suffered no physical harm, there was an economic injury because of the taint associated with the P320.

In his 27-page order, Judge Joseph Laplante found that “Ortiz has adequately pled his standing to litigate this case and most of his legal claims.”

The case now moves to the discovery phase. Laplante will eventually be asked to certify the class, which could make hundreds of thousands of P320 owners potentially eligible for compensation.

In 2017, a prominent online gun shop pulled the P320 from its shelves, citing its own testing that found the weapon could fire if dropped from certain angles. Multiple P320 owners, including several law enforcement officers, have been severely injured when their P320 allegedly discharged without a trigger pull.

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 made necessary modifications to the military version of the P320, 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 company maintains that the weapons are safe.

In an unrelated case, SIG Sauer agreed last month to settle another proposed class action suit centered on a different design issue with the P320. 

“The class action lawsuit claims that P320 pistols manufactured before August 8, 2017, were defectively designed because the design allegedly allows the pistol to discharge where the pistol’s slide and barrel are in an unlocked condition due to the absence of a mechanical disconnector,” according to a statement from SIG Sauer. 

The company admits no wrongdoing, but under the terms, it will buy back P320s from any current owner who wishes to dispose of the gun.

All named plaintiffs in the case, which is being handled by a federal court judge in Missouri, could receive a payment of between $1,400 to $2,800 under the terms of the proposed settlement.

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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