George Abrahams says the gun went off on its own, inside his pants pocket, as he walked down the stairs in his home in Northwest Philadelphia.
It was June 19, 2020, about 9 p.m. He remembers the pain of the bullet tearing into his right thigh, and the fear of seeing so much blood. He asked his sister for something he could fashion into a tourniquet, to slow the bleeding, and managed to tie a belt around his leg. Later, at the hospital, he was scared for his life, and wondered whether he’d ever see his daughter again.
“I was in so much shock that I couldn’t even scream,” recalled Abrahams, a painting contractor who was familiar with firearms from his eight years in the Army.
On Tuesday, Abrahams, 53, became the latest owner of a Sig Sauer P320 to sue the New Hampshire-based gun-maker over an alleged unintentional discharge. According to Abrahams’ lawyers, he’s one of dozens of people around the country who have been affected by a P320 pistol that fired without the trigger being pulled.
“We’ve learned that there have been as many as 70 incidents that have been reported to Sig Sauer, which placed them on notice that this gun continues to harm law enforcement users, federal agents and other safety-conscious gun owners,” said Robert Zimmerman, a lawyer for Abrahams with Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky.
Sig Sauer did not immediately respond to The Inquirer’s request for comment Tuesday. The company has denied allegations related to unintentional discharges in other lawsuits.
On its website, Sig offers a “voluntary upgrade” program for P320 owners, explaining that “a potential discharge of the firearm may result when dropped.”
The complaint by Abrahams was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Saltz Mongeluzzi also represents a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in a similar lawsuit filed against Sig Sauer last year in federal court in Philadelphia.
In total, Saltz Mongeluzzi now has seven lawsuits in active litigation against the gun-maker in four states, and represents more than 15 additional clients who say they’re the victim of an unintentional discharge of a P320.
The gun has a history in Philadelphia. In August 2019, a transit police officer’s P320 went off unintentionally inside Suburban Station during rush hour. The officer said the gun was inside its holster, and that he hadn’t touched the trigger when it fired — an incident that prompted SEPTA to ditch the P320, and replace officers’ guns with a different firearm, within weeks.
What happened when a SEPTA officer’s handgun spontaneously fired in Philly’s Suburban Station
Last year, The Inquirer obtained video footage and documents illustrating how the bullet narrowly missed the officer’s own knee, as he was sitting behind the wheel of a motorized cart, and a bystander who had just crossed in front of his vehicle.
“Like you saw in the SEPTA incident, these incidents can happen anywhere,” Zimmerman said. “They can happen in public spaces. And anyone that’s in the vicinity of this gun is potentially at risk.”
Sig won a major contract in 2017 to supply the military with sidearms based on the P320 design. But the military version has a manual safety that most P320s lack, according to Zimmerman.
Abrahams considered Sig to have a good reputation when he purchased a P320 for self-defense in 2018.
Now he feels almost as if he were carrying “a ticking bomb around my friends and family,” he said in an interview.
The bullet that entered his thigh exited near his knee. He’s still in physical therapy for the injury. But “what happened to the nerves and muscle and tissues,” he said, “there’s no way to repair that.”
Two years after being wounded, he gets fatigued easily, he said, and experiences both tingling and numbness in his leg — a sense that part of his body can feel like “an inanimate object.”
“It has changed my life in more ways than one,” Abrahams said.
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