NEW ORLEANS — A woman who was injured in 2013 when her father’s Remington rifle misfired won $500,000 in a recent ruling by Judge Ivan Lemelle of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
A rifle expert says, however, that a dirty trigger was likely the cause of the accident.
Precious Seguin was hunting with her father James Seguin Jr. in October 2013, walking ahead of him, when the Remington Model 710 bolt-action rifle he was carrying accidentally discharged, striking her in the buttocks and hip.
A year later, Precious Seguin filed suit against Remington, alleging that the rifle was defective. According to a 1999 Louisiana law, gun manufacturers are not liable for an injury or death “...resulting from any shooting injury by any other person unless the claimant proves and shows that such injury, damage or death was proximately caused by the unreasonably dangerous construction or composition of the product."
David McDonald has been a gunsmith since 1981, and he has won 15 titles in various shooting disciplines, including international titles and nine titles as a champion of the state of Georgia. He has been a national record holder for a long range handgun shooting since 1990.
He sees issues all the time with Remington and other rifles, but he feels the Remington is not defective.
“It’s a perfectly good gun," he told the Louisiana Record. "The issues tend to come from lack of maintenance. I’ve seen many a dangerous Remington, Winchester, Savage, Browning, but it was always the same sort of problem. Nobody ever cleaned the thing and it got filthy dirty, malfunctioned, and that’s a dangerous thing to be around.”
McDonald said the trigger had likely not been cleaned on James Seguin's rifle
“Most people own a gun 20 years and never clean the trigger mechanism," he said. "Most people clean the barrel, run an oily stick up and won the barrel then lean it in the corner. The oil that’s in the barrel runs downhill. The trigger is the lowest point of the gun so dirt and oil and what not run into the trigger mechanism. It gets dirty and gooey and quits working. I don’t necessarily think that’s Remington’s fault.”
Precious Seguin’s attorneys conceded that the trigger was dirty, but argued that it couldn’t be cleaned.
“A defective or very dirty rifle trigger will not fix itself," McDonald said. "The gun worked correctly when tested after shooting. The father said it was a tree limb that pulled the trigger, so the safety would had been in the fire position. A Remington rifle will not fire if the safety is on, but some have fired as the safety was moved to fire. That comes from a dirty trigger that is stuck in the pulled position as the safety was moved.”
The $500,000 settlement agreement between the parties was intended to avoid the time and expense of a full trial. All claims against Remington would have been dropped if the judge had ruled in Remington’s favor.