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Federal judge: Proposed class action suit against Sig Sauer may proceed

picture of a Sig Sauer pistol

A federal judge is declining to dismiss a proposed class action suit filed against New Hampshire-based gun manufacturer Sig Sauer over safety concerns related to its popular P320 pistol.

In 2019, Derek Ortiz, an Arizona law enforcement officer, filed the civil suit alleging he wouldn’t have purchased the P320, or would have paid less, had he known about the gun’s potential to discharge when dropped at certain angles.

Sig Sauer, based in Newington, maintains the P320 is safe. The company has offered a free voluntary modification that swaps out certain components of the gun, including its trigger, in response to a series of injuries allegedly caused by a dropped weapon.

In a ruling released last week, Judge Joseph LaPlante rejected Sig Sauer’s efforts to dismiss the proposed class action case, noting that Ortiz presented two examples of upgraded P320s allegedly firing without a trigger pull, including a recent incident in which a Texas detective was shot in the leg after her gun fired from inside her purse.

“Sig Sauer claims, without adequate evidentiary support, that these incidents do not involve drop fires,” LaPlante wrote. While the exact circumstances of the firings remain unclear, he noted “while not resounding, these two incidents bar the court, at this stage, from concluding that Sig Sauer’s upgrades cure the drop fire defect.”

LaPlante dismissed other claims made by Ortiz regarding a breach of the gun’s warranty.

Attorneys for Sig Sauer and Ortiz were not immediately available for comment Monday.

The company continues to state that the weapon is safe, including in its original unmodified version. The U.S. Army first discovered the risk of potential discharge in April 2016, according to court documents, while the weapon was being considered as the new standard-issue sidearm for soldiers. In previous court filings, Ortiz claimed there are more than 300,000 unmodified P320s in circulation, though that number has not been verified.

The gunmaker has settled previous suits brought by members of law enforcement and the public seriously injured when their P320 allegedly fired without a trigger pull.

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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