Newington-based gunmaker SIG Sauer is facing a new lawsuit brought by 20 people — including federal agents, police and civilians — who say they were injured when the company’s model P320 pistols fired without a trigger pull.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal complaints filed against the company, each claiming the pistol has a design flaw that leads to unintentional discharges of the firearm, occasionally while holstered. Plaintiffs are calling for the gunmaker to make safety design changes.
SIG Sauer has steadfastly denied the claims. The company is known for producing weapons for the military and law enforcement.
The latest lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court by attorneys with a Philadelphia-based law firm alleges the P320 is “the most dangerous pistol sold in the United States market.”
Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky represents 49 SIG Sauer P320 users in lawsuits against the manufacturer.
“We are calling on SIG Sauer to do what it should have done long ago — recall the P320 weapon and redesign the gun with the types of safeties used by its competitors,” attorney Robert W. Zimmerman said after the filing. “Every time we speak with a new injured victim, they all want the same thing — to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“We fear that more and more Americans — law enforcement and responsible gun owners alike — will continue to fall victim to this weapon until SIG makes the reasonable choice to protect its customer base and the community at large.”
Attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi said after every lawsuit his firm files, “more and more users have contacted us regarding their injuries from unintended discharges of their P320s.”
“Every complaint adds to the avalanche of evidence regarding the danger of this product, and we urge anyone who has experienced a P320 accidental discharge to contact us immediately,” Mongeluzzi said in a statement.
“If SIG Sauer will not make this gun safe, we will look to the justice system to hold them accountable,” said attorney Daniel L. Ceisler.
In a written statement, SIG Sauer responded to the latest lawsuit by reiterating its stance that the “P320 is designed to fire when the trigger is pulled.”
“It includes internal safeties that prevent the firearm from discharging without a trigger pull,” the statement said. “The NH complaint is claiming the trigger pull of the P320 necessitates an external manual safety to protect against a discharge resulting from accidental or unintended trigger actuation.
“However, the trigger pull force of the P320 is consistent with industry practice, and SIG offers P320 models with a manual safety, providing its customers the opportunity to choose if their P320 should include a manual safety or not based on individual preferences. Some customers, including many law enforcement agencies, believe that inclusion of a manual safety is a detriment to the safe and reliable use of a pistol given their intended use.”
“Giving the customer a choice and an opportunity to exercise their philosophy of use with respect to the firearm they purchase is common amongst manufacturers in the firearms industry,” SIG Sauer said.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Monday are federal and local law enforcement officers and private gun owners. The group of 20 includes:
• U.S. Army Veteran Cody Higgins, an Oregon resident and retired combat veteran who claims his P320 fired when he holstered the weapon without touching the trigger, causing injuries including tissue maceration and nerve damage;
• Milwaukee Police Officer Charles Laskey-Castle, a five-year veteran of the force, who claims he was injured on Sept. 10, 2022, when his partner’s fully holstered P320 unintentionally discharged and struck Laskey-Castle in his left thigh;
• Virginia State Police Trooper Marcos Hernandez, a 10-year veteran, who claims he was injured by his P320 while walking into his department headquarters on Jan. 24, when the gun discharged while fully holstered and “his hands completely off of the gun,” putting a round in his right leg.
The complaints, seeking compensatory and punitive damages, also state “SIG Sauer manufactures the only single-action pistols on the market that are not equipped with any form of external manual safety.”
In September, a federal judge ruled in SIG Sauer’s favor in a product liability lawsuit brought by a Hillsborough man, who alleged he was hit in the leg by a bullet because his pistol fired without him pulling the trigger.
The plaintiff, Kyle Guay, alleged SIG Sauer sold the P320 pistol in an unreasonably dangerous condition. The lawsuit claimed the pistol has a defect, allowing it to fire without the trigger being pulled under certain conditions.
Judge Landya McCafferty ruled Guay failed to prove SIG Sauer knew an advertisement — a “Safety Without Compromise” notice that Guay said he read on the gunmaker’s website before purchasing his P320 in December 2016 — was false.
In that advertisement, SIG Sauer promised the P320 “won’t fire unless you want it to.”
Court documents show Guay introduced video footage of an alleged misfire of a P320 in Roscommon, Michigan, that occurred on Feb. 4, 2016. The video was from the bodycam of Officer Michael Richardson of the Roscommon Sheriff’s Department.
The video begins with Officer Richardson sitting in his cruiser on the side of a highway to help a car stranded in a snowstorm. The video shows Officer Richardson exiting his cruiser when suddenly his holstered P320 fires.
In his incident report, dated Feb. 4, 2016, Officer Richardson wrote: “As I exited the patrol vehicle, my weapon discharged while being completely in the holster.”
Even though the Roscommon incident occurred in February 2016, there was no evidence that SIG Sauer became aware of the incident (or saw the video) close in time to the incident,” wrote McCafferty in her ruling.
Court documents show the only evidence introduced at trial that anyone at SIG Sauer had seen the Roscommon video was a deposition of a SIG Sauer corporate executive that took place on Jan. 10, 2019, which established that employees at SIG Sauer had watched the Roscommon bodycam video and the company had, at one time, a copy of it in its possession.
But the evidence at trial did not establish the date on which SIG Sauer first became aware of the incident, McCafferty wrote.