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Tacoma man shot by own pistol sues gun company, alleges model had a dangerous defect

The civilian Sig Sauer P320-M18 is modeled on the M17/M18 Modular Handgun System MHS. (Sig Sauer photo/Released)

A Tacoma man who was shot as he put his Sig Sauer pistol in a holster has sued the company for millions, alleging the firearms have a history of going off without the trigger being pulled.

Cody Hoefs argues the company knew about the defect and failed to do a mandatory recall.

“… Sig Sauer concealed and propagated a defective deadly weapon so as not to jeopardize a $580,000,000 contract with the United States military, whereby it chose to put profit over the safety and well-being (of) both law enforcement and the general public,” the lawsuit says.

The model, the Sig Sauer P320, was the subject of a CNN investigation in 2018.

News Tribune attempts to reach Sig Sauer for comment were not successful.

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 26 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, gives this account:

Hoefs was at home Nov. 23, 2016 when he put his loaded pistol in the holster.

The gun went off “with no prompting while fully-seated in its Sig brand holster,” and Hoefs suffered a gunshot wound to his right thigh and lower leg, the complaint says.

The lawsuit lists a series of similar incidents in which Sig Sauer guns went off “without the trigger being pulled, or simply while being handled, accidentally dropped, or while being holstered.”

In one instance, a SWAT team member sued the company in 2017 in Connecticut. He alleged that he was shot in the knee when a P320 discharged without the trigger being pulled.

Days later the company’s CEO said in a statement that there had been no drop-related incidents with those weapons.

The company also “announced a ‘voluntary upgrade’ program for the P320 pistol, stating that the pistol meets ‘rigorous testing protocols for global military and law enforcement agencies,’” Hoefs’ lawsuit says.

The upgrade was allegedly publicized as optional and not urgent, and the upgraded pistols also later had reports of unintentional discharges.

“Based upon subsequent reports of additional unintentional discharges of even ‘upgraded’ P320 pistols, the voluntary upgrade program did not fully address the design and manufacturing defects and the weapon remains unsafe, despite Sig Sauer’s repeated public protestations to the contrary,” the lawsuit says. “Since the optional upgrade program was announced, several police departments issued emergency orders and recalls to remove the P320 from service, strictly due to safety concerns and unintentional discharges from a defect with the P320 handgun.”

The pistol’s history of discharging without the trigger being pulled “… demonstrates a pervasive, systemic, chronic, and deadly problem with the design, assembly, and manufacture of Sig Sauer pistols and Sig Sauer trigger packages,” the complaint says.

Hoefs medical expenses exceeded $16,000.

The lawsuit says: “As a result of his injuries, plaintiff has suffered physical pain, and mental anguish, including loss of enjoyment of life; he will in the future suffer physical pain and mental anguish, including loss of enjoyment of life and an increased likelihood of future harmful medical complications, in an amount not less than $5,000,000.”

It goes on to say that Hoefs is “entitled to punitive and exemplary damages in an amount to be determined by the trier of fact, but not less than $10,000,000.”


© 2020 The News Tribune