A man in St. Louis has filed a class-action lawsuit against Century International Arms over allegations that certain AK-47 rifles by the manufacturer came with defective safety selectors. According to the complaint, which was filed late last month in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, lead plaintiff J. Steven Erickson alleged that Century Arms failed to disclose a defect with their safety levers and attempted to conceal the problem. Erickson, who owns a Century Arms rifle, says that when the safety selector is placed above the dust cover, it contacts the disconnector, causing the hammer to release and the rifle to discharge.
“Despite actual knowledge of the Safety Selector defect, Century Arms has never issued a warning to the public or recall of the Class AK-47 Rifles,” the lawsuit stated. “Century continues to falsely represent to the public that the Class AK-47 Rifles are safe and reliable. In fact, Century is aware that the Class AK-47 Rifles have fired as result of the Safety Selector defect, and it is only a matter of time before individuals are seriously injured or killed.”
Interestingly enough, the lawsuit specifically mentions a YouTube video pointing out the alleged flaw, which you can watch below:
According to the complaint, Erickson purchased a Century Model 1980 chambered in 7.62x39mm in 2011. When he took the rifle to a range in 2015, Erickson witnessed the weapon being discharged as another patron was handling it back to him. This occurred when the safety selector advanced past the safety position and touched the disconnector, dropping the hammer and firing the rifle.
“Fortunately, the bullet or projectile from the Class AK-47 Rifle struck no human,” stated the lawsuit.
News of the lawsuit caused some debate among gun-related forums, and included many rifle owners who called the suit frivolous. They argue that not only is the issue inherent in the original design of the AK-47, but that the problem usually only occurs when the dust cover is either removed or damaged. The particular quick of the safety lever being able to discharge a AK-47 is considered to be widely known and has been discussed at length within the gun owning community.
Supporters of the lawsuit however, say it is a worrying defect that should have never made it past quality assurance inspections in the first place. Representing the plaintiff is attorney Angelo Marino, who famously helped win a class action lawsuit against Taurus International over alleged handgun trigger defects. Marino was able to secure a $30 million settlement in that case. In the lawsuit against Century Arms, he is seeking $5 million.
Models 1960, 1908, and the M70 were specifically mentioned. The lawsuit adds that Century Arms changed the safety selector on its current models so that the defect no longer occurs.