By Dave Workman
A senior U.S. District Court judge in the Western District of Missouri has approved a settlement in a lawsuit against Remington firearms, according to CNBC.
The ruling, by Judge Ortrie D. Smith, has drawn some attention from the National Law Journal. A report in that publication looked at class action lawsuits, using the Remington case as something of a launch pad for discussion. The NLJ linked to the ruling here.
The case affects some 7.5 million Remington bolt-action firearms and included an outreach effort to gun owners that included social media advertising, a national radio campaign, direct mail and a posters in thousands of gun shops. According to the court ruling, the combined effort reached millions of people. As a result, the court found that “the parties engaged in reasonable efforts to identify potential class members, and so doing, met the requirements” set down in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The settlement involves an estimated 7.5 million Remington rifles including the legendary Model 700, Model Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, 721, 722 and 725 rifles, and the XP-100 pistol, according to a Remington announcement.
Judge Smith, a Bill Clinton appointee, had previously twice ordered parties in the lawsuit to come up with a settlement. According to CNBC, critics of the settlement are not entirely happy and they think plaintiffs’ attorneys should have been more aggressive.
However, Judge Smith acknowledged that it is impossible to determine just how many of these firearms – some manufactured decades ago – are still in circulation. Likewise, it would be impossible to determine just how many people might be considered members of the affected class of Remington owners.
By mid-February, 22,000 claims had been filed, but that still represented only 0.29 percent of the presumed 7.5 million affected Remington firearms.
Providing some insight, Judge Smith noted in his ruling, “There are several possible explanations offered by the mediator, parties, and objectors: the class members did not receive notice of the proposed settlement, the class members are satisfied with their firearms and do not want the firearms to be retrofitted, the class members have not experienced issues with their triggers as alleged by Plaintiffs and see no reason to submit a claim, the class members do not want to send their firearms off for an unknown period of time, the class is unique and does not trust the government or attorneys, and the class members do not want to submit claims because they believe the claims process is equivalent to a firearms registry.”
Later in the ruling, Judge Smith also observed, “While the Court remains disappointed with the claims rate, the claims rate does not dictate whether the notice provided was the best notice practicable under the circumstances. The claims rate does not govern whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, or adequate. The Court finds the methods and mechanisms for disseminating notice in this matter satisfy Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”
The case involved allegations that Remington had deliberately concealed a problem with its bolt-action rifles that allowed them to discharge without pressing the trigger under “certain conditions.” Remington has consistently denied the allegation, but agreed to retrofit triggers on millions of rifles under the settlement agreement.
Remington’s website advises members of the “Settlement Class Members” who are owners of the identified firearms that they may be entitled to:
(1) have their trigger mechanism retrofitted with a new X-Mark Pro or other connectorless trigger mechanism at no cost to the class members;
(2) receive a voucher code for Remington products redeemable at Remington’s online store; and/or,
(3) be refunded the money they spent to replace their Model 700 or Seven’s original Walker trigger mechanism with an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism.
Some of these guns are reportedly too old to be retrofitted with the new trigger mechanism, so they will receive product vouchers.
Claims for repair may be submitted electronically at remingtonfirearmsclassactionsettlement.com. The claims period continues for 18 months after the order becomes final.