Judge sides with SIG Sauer in accidental shooting lawsuit

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A federal judge ruled in favor of gun manufacturer SIG Sauer in a lawsuit filed by a man who accidentally shot himself in the leg with the company's P320 pistol.

U.S. Judge Landya McCafferty said last week that the plaintiff, Kyle Guay, failed to prove that SIG Sauer was aware that it had sold the pistol in an unreasonably dangerous condition in December 2016. Guay, who said in the lawsuit that he has "substantial firearms experience," claimed he was removing his holster with the pistol secured in it "when the pistol fired and hit him in the right thigh without him ever touching the trigger," according to a report from American Military News.

Guay said he purchased the pistol after seeing a SIG Sauer advertisement promising "Safety Without Compromise" and boasting the P320 pistol "won’t fire unless you want it to," a claim he argued the company knew was false.

As evidence, Guy introduced bodycam video of an alleged misfire of a P320 pistol by Roscommon, Michigan Sheriff’s Department Officer Michael Richardson in February 2016. The video shows Richardson sitting in his cruiser on a highway before attempting to help a stranded motorist, with the officer having his holstered P320 pistol suddenly fire as he attempts to exit his vehicle.

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SIG Sauer handguns are displayed for sale. (Photo by Luke Sharrett /For The Washington Post / Getty Images)

Although the incident took place months before Guay purchased his pistol, McCafferty ruled that he failed to prove the company was aware of the incident or had seen the video before December 2016.

"The strongest evidence introduced at trial that SIG Sauer knew or should have known that the P320 could potentially fire without an intentional trigger pull is the Roscommon incident," McCafferty wrote in the ruling. "However, there was no evidence introduced at trial to show that SIG Sauer was aware of the Roscommon incident at the relevant time: in December 2016, when Guay purchased his P320 in reliance upon the advertisement."

"The evidence only established that SIG Sauer had seen the Roscommon video by January 10, 2019, more than three years after Guay purchased his gun," McCafferty continued.

Convention attendees look at firearms displayed at the Sig Sauer booth at the 2016 National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images))

The ruling comes amid growing calls to hold gun manufactures liable for incidents arising from the use of their firearms, including for the ability to sue companies if their products are used to carry out a mass shooting.

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Gun manufactures have some legal protections under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which was enacted in 2005, but they can still be the target of lawsuits. While PLCAA does protect gunmakers from legal liability for crimes committed with their products, it does not provide them with blanket protections in cases such as gun defects.

President Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon / AP Newsroom)

President Biden has lamented the legal protections afforded to gunmakers since taking office, arguing such protections are unique to the industry.

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"Imagine had we had a liability – they’re the only industry in America that is exempted from being able to be sued by the public," Biden said last year. "The only one."

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