HELENA — The Remington Arms Co. has confirmed it will offer to replace trigger mechanisms on millions of Model 700 bolt-action hunting rifles, as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement reported earlier this week.
In a statement issued Thursday, the company said it “pursue a settlement” in which it will replace the trigger mechanism, which the lawsuit alleged is defective and causes the rifles sometimes to fire without a trigger pull, or offer some sort of compensation to rifle owners.
The Gazette State Bureau reported Monday on the settlement and its likely inclusion of a recall of the Model 700s, after a settlement notice was filed July 2 in U.S. District Court in Missouri. The agreement also will settle a similar lawsuit in federal court in Washington state.
Thursday’s statements by Remington and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said Remington Arms agreed to the settlement but denied allegations of economic loss by those who filed the suits.
Remington has sold more than 5 million of the popular hunting rifles since 1962.
The company and the plaintiffs declined to provide further details about the settlement, which must be approved by the court before taking effect.
Last week’s settlement notice said an agreement will be submitted to U.S. District Court in Missouri by Oct. 30.
Earlier this week, Richard Barber, of Manhattan, who has been investigating the Model 700 for a dozen years and pressing the company to recall the weapons and replace the trigger mechanism, said the settlement will “accomplish what I want to accomplish.”
“I guess it’s safe to say, it’s better late than never,” he told the Gazette State Bureau on Monday. “As a whole, (the settlement) represents the best interests of the public. It will save lives, it will save limbs.”
Barber’s 9-year-old son, Gus, was killed by a Model 700 rifle in a 2000 hunting accident in Montana. The family says the rifle fired when Barber’s wife, Barbara, released the safety as she prepared to unload the weapon. The bullet passed through a horse trailer and hit Gus, who was standing behind the trailer.
Barber sued Remington and later settled the lawsuit after extracting a promise from the company that it would redesign what he determined was a faulty trigger mechanism.
However, Barber said the company reneged on a promise to stop manufacturing the old trigger mechanism.
At least three class-action suits have been filed in federal court against Remington involving the Model 700 and dozens of other lawsuits have been filed by people claiming injury or death from rifles that fired accidentally.
Remington has blamed users of the rifles for the accidents and won some of the cases.
Barber, however, has said the company knew for years about problems with the trigger mechanism and systematically denied and concealed them.