Brazilian gun maker Forjas Taurus SA has reportedly agreed to a $30 million settlement in a class action lawsuit over defective pistol triggers. In court documents, plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed that the affected firearms were capable of firing when dropped, regardless of whether the safety was engaged.
According to consumer protection lawyer Angelo Marino Jr., one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, the lawsuit was for owners of any Taurus striker-fired semiautomatic pistol with an inner trigger blade safety manufactured since 2000. This includes nine models: the PT-609, PT-640, PT-42/7, PT-111 Millennium, PT-132 Millennium, PT-138 Millennium, PT-140 Millennium, PT-145 Millennium, and PT-745 Millennium.
“The Taurus Companies do not admit liability in connection with the settlement,” a company official told Grand View Outdoors. “If anyone has one of these pistols, we are happy to inspect it under the warranty and suggest that they send it to us so that we can do so.”
In addition, Top Class Actions reported that Taurus will be giving owners of the affected handguns an extended warranty, training to use the firearm, and the opportunity to return the firearm for about $200 each if less than 10,000 guns are returned. If more than 10,000 affected handguns are sent back, owners will receive less until the return price reaches a minimum limit of $150 per firearm. If 200,000 firearms are returned, Taurus will have to pay an additional $9 million in lawyer’s fees.
“Consumers expect that the products they purchase are safe. Unfortunately, that is not always true. We hear news everyday that another dangerous product has been discovered on the market. Now imagine that the product that is defective is a firearm. If handled properly, guns can be a useful resource in hunting, target shooting, home protection and many other areas, but what if the gun is poorly designed or defective thus making the gun dangerous even when handled properly?” asked the law office of Morris, Haynes, Hornsby, Wheeles, & Knowles, which is also representing plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit and successfully won a $1.25 million judgement from the gun maker in a 2009 case.
In that lawsuit, Morris, Haynes, Hornsby, Wheeles, & Knowles represented a 28-year-old Alabama man who was injured after his PT-111 Millennium handgun dropped to the floor and fired, sending a bullet into his abdomen and impacting his pancreas, spleen, and diaphragm.
“An internal safety device known as a striker block safety was defective and failed to prevent the striker (firing pin) from impacting the bullet and causing the gun to discharge, when subjected to a sharp impact such as a drop. The jury found that this defect in the PT111 9mm Millennium Taurus handgun caused the young man’s injuries and awarded a verdict of $1.25 million as a result,” stated the law office.
The current class action lawsuit is spearheaded by plaintiff Chris Carter, a Sheriff’s deputy from Iowa. While in foot pursuit of a suspect, Carter’s Taurus PT-140 Millennium dropped and fired a round, despite the safety being engaged. No bystanders were injured as a result and the bullet struck a vehicle.
The lawsuit claimed that Taurus has known about the defects since at least 2007, and had previously settled cases in which serious injury was involved. In 2013, the São Paulo State Military Police also recalled 98,000 Taurus 24/7 pistols after it was discovered that the guns could be fired without pulling the trigger.
“At all relevant times to this action, the Taurus defendants fraudulently concealed and intentionally failed to warn plaintiff and class members of the safety defects with the intent to deceive the plaintiff, class members and general public without knowledge of the defects,” stated the lawsuit.
Taurus has not yet made any statements regarding the settlement or how returns will be conducted. OutdoorHub has contacted TaurusUSA but was unable to get a comment before the publication of this article.