HELENA — A Montana couple is appealing a judge's dismissal of their lawsuit against gun manufacturer Remington claiming a 1989 shooting that left a man paralyzed was caused by a defect in a rifle.
U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull ruled on April 29 that time had run out on the claim by Brad and Dianna Humphrey of Fairfield. The Humphreys filed their lawsuit last year against Remington Arms Co., Sporting Goods Properties Inc. — the name by which the gun manufacturer is now known — and E.I. DuPont de Nemours Inc., which owned all of Remington's stock before 1993.
The lawsuit claims Brad Humphrey was paralyzed after a Remington Model 700 misfired while his stepson slipped getting into a truck. They were elk hunting in Cascade County at the time.
Humphrey originally presumed the rifle fired because his stepson inadvertently pulled the trigger when he slipped, the lawsuit says.
Humphrey and his wife say they only found out about problems with the Remington 700 after watching a 2010 CNBC documentary on reports of defects in the bolt-action rifle.
The show discussed claims of design defects that can cause the rifle to fire upon release of the safety, movement of the bolt or when jarred.
The Humphreys filed their lawsuit in September, claiming the gun manufacturer was negligent, liable for the defective design and for failing to warn consumers about the defect.
Cebull ruled the timing of their discovery didn't matter. The judge said Humphrey had three years to investigate a potential claim from the time of his injury, meaning the statute of limitations on the claim ended in 1992.
The judge noted two similar claims had been recent dismissed in Rhode Island and Washington state.
The Humphreys on Tuesday filed a notice of appeal of Cebull's ruling with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appellate court has ordered an opening brief in the case by Sept. 5.
Coincidentally, a Montana couple featured on the 2010 CNBC documentary and who previously settled a similar claim over the Remington 700 also is appealing the dismissal of a separate lawsuit that the gun manufacturer defamed and slandered them.
Richard and Barbara Barber's 9-year-old son, Gus, died in 2000 when the same model rifle discharged while his mother was unloading it.
They settled with the manufacturer in 2000, then appeared on the 2010 CNBC show to tell their story.
Remington produced two responses countering some of the assertions made in the program, saying the company and experts have never been able to duplicate that model rifle misfiring when the guns have been properly maintained and unaltered.
The Barbers claimed those responses were defamatory and slanderous, and had the effect of publicly blaming them for their son's death.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in February rejected their argument, saying the settlement they signed in 2002 released the manufacturer from future claims by the Barbers that come out of the same accidental shooting.
The Barbers also are appealing to the 9th Circuit.