SIG Sauer P320 guns have an iffy safety track record, and lawsuits are now settling with people who’ve been injured
This won’t be about when, how or for whom guns should be legal. Rather, if you’re a gun owner, you should understand the laws that relate to product defects—because a gun can be defective, just like any other item you own.
SIG Sauer P320 handgun defects
The SIG Sauer P320 has been on the market to consumers since 2014. It was designed to be a handgun that fires only when intended by the users—as a “safe” handgun model. However, despite the manufacturer’s marketing claims, reports of accidents led to multiple lawsuits over the years.
Specifically, the claim is that the SIG Sauer can discharge when the user hasn’t even touched the trigger. It has caused injuries to the user and bystanders. Lawsuits claim that if the gun had some movement, like a bump or tap, it would fire even though the user wasn’t touching it at the time. In many of the injury cases, the gun discharged because it was accidentally dropped. In some situations, though, it fired while in its holster.
Florida officer’s SIG Sauer lawsuit
Bob Northrop is a decorated veteran and was a Tampa, Florida police officer for 30 years. After returning, he was a reserve officer for 19 years. He was about to become the longest-serving officer for the city of Tampa.
But then his career came to an abrupt halt on February 27, 2020.
Northrop was working an extra-duty job at a high school, patrolling school sporting events. He was walking the ball fields at Jefferson High School and began to attach a set of keys to his service belt. When his hand brushed his holster to attach the keys, his SIG Sauer P320 pistol fired by itself. There were dozens of students just feet away.
The bullet blew apart the bones in his leg and ankle and he required surgery, screws, rods and lengthy rehabilitation. Northrop remained in the hospital for weeks after the accidental shooting.
He later sued SIG Sauer, “for the design, manufacture, sale, distribution and inadequate warnings relating to an unreasonably dangerous and defective firearm.” From 2016 to Northrop’s injury in 2020, there were dozens of incidents of the pistol firing without a trigger-pull. Nonetheless, the Tampa Police Department had purchased 1,375 P320 guns, totaling more than $345,000.
SIG Sauer voluntary upgrades
In 2017, SIG Sauer offered a voluntary upgrade program that provided a “free fix” for consumers to send their P320 guns to the manufacturer for a repair that would alleviate the accidental discharge problem. The company continued to maintain that the weapon met all of the U.S. safety standards at that time, but that the repair would eliminate the possibility of injury caused by “multiple drops, at certain angles and conditions” that might cause an accidental fire.
Northrop’s attorney argued that SIG Sauer’s voluntary upgrade and repair program started in 2017 was not enough to protect people who already owned the gun. A voluntary upgrade is not the same as a recall, but the Tampa PD had upgraded its force’s guns, anyway. Northrop was carrying an upgraded gun at the time of his shooting. He believed that his pistol was safe and had been repaired.
Milwaukee SIG Sauer police lawsuits
Some of the SIG Sauer P320 lawsuits aren’t against the manufacturer. The Milwaukee Police Association is suing the City of Milwaukee related to the defective guns.
The Milwaukee police department uses the SIG Sauer P320 as its main duty weapon. However, the lawsuit alleges that the defects were known when the City purchased them. It says that these guns that have issues with inadvertent discharges are “inherently unsafe, especially for police officers.”
This became an issue after Officer Adam Maritato was shot in the leg by another officer’s P320 weapon in 2020. The two were struggling with a suspect when the other officer’s gun “discharged without a trigger pull,” according to the lawsuit.
Maritato did eventually recover from his injuries after extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy. However, the police department claims in the lawsuit that Maritato was only one of at least three incidents when an officer was injured by a SIG Sauer P320 that accidentally discharged without its trigger being pulled.
U.S. Army veteran files lawsuit against SIG Sauer
A Philadelphia Army vet was shot in the leg by his SIG Sauer P320 while walking down the stairs. His gun discharged while it was in its holster from the motion of his walking. His lawsuit contends that the weapon is, “the most dangerous pistol for its users sold in the U.S. market.”
SIG Sauer class action lawsuit settlement
A class action lawsuit allows many plaintiffs with the same or similar complaints to file a single lawsuit against a specific defendant. The group (“class”) of injured individuals is treated like a single plaintiff for the purposes of the lawsuit and they receive the same award; if there is a settlement or verdict, the award (money damages) is split among the individuals who are part of the class.
A class action lawsuit against SIG Sauer claims a defective design of P320 pistols manufactured before August 2017. The lawsuit alleges that the accidental discharges were caused because the slide and barrel would remain in an unlocked condition because of an absent mechanical disconnector.
The settlement provides benefits to a person who owns a SIG Sauer P320 under these conditions:
- The owner has not previously had a Cartridge Failure Event or had a previous event but did not return their gun to SIG Sauer for repair at that time;
- They are a current or former owner of a P320 handgun and previously returned it to the manufacturer after a Cartridge Failure Event and were told it couldn’t be repaired; or
- They are a current or former owner of a P320 handgun who returned it to the manufacturer after a Cartridge Failure Event and were charged for the repair.
The class action lawsuit plaintiffs who still own their P320 pistol would receive a transferable limited lifetime warranty against future Cartridge Failure Events. They may also have their pistols repaired by the manufacturer at no cost to the owner. If they no longer own the pistol, they can be refunded for the original price paid for the P320 pistol or receive a new pistol of the same or similar version. If their pistol was repaired, they can be refunded money paid to SIG Sauer for that repair, including shipping costs.
What if you’ve been injured by a defective SIG Sauer P320 handgun?
If you’ve suffered an injury because of an accidental firing of a SIG Sauer P320 handgun, here are the steps you can take:
- Seek medical care. It probably goes without saying, but be sure to get a full diagnosis of your injuries and prognosis for recovery as soon as possible. Likewise, if your gun accidentally discharges and someone else is injured, they should do the same.
- Preserve evidence. Don’t handle the gun (or handle it as little as possible) so that experts can determine how it fired accidentally and if the accident resulted from the design defect.
- Maintain contact with witnesses. If there were witnesses, make sure to take their contact information. You don’t need to take a statement at that moment, but your lawyer will want their accounts of what happened. Particularly in a case like Plaintiff Northrop’s, it would be important for people to testify that they saw that you were not touching the trigger and it discharged with just a touch or movement to the outside of the holster, or that the gun was dropped, etc.
- Take notes and keep records. As in any personal injury lawsuit, it’s important to document any symptoms—physical and mental—expenses, and effects from the accident.
You should also call a personal injury lawyer for guidance about whether you have a lawsuit or what legal action you can take. If you were injured because of a defective product, the manufacturer should compensate you for your losses.