United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
PRECIOUS SEGUIN, ET AL.
REMINGTON ARMS COMPANY, LLC, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment filed by
Plaintiff Precious Seguin (“Precious” or
“Plaintiff”) and Defendant Remington Arms
Company, LLC (“Remington” or
“Defendant”). Rec. Docs. 151, 152. Both parties
timely filed opposition memoranda. Rec. Docs. 154-1, 155. For
the reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that
Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Rec. Doc. 151)
FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant's cross-motion for summary
judgment (Rec. Doc. 152) is DENIED.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
previously discussed, this case arises out of a tragic
hunting accident in which Precious suffered significant
injuries. On October 28, 2013, at approximately 10:00 p.m.,
Precious went out into the woods near Loranger, Louisiana
with her father, James Seguin, Jr. (“J.R.”), her
brother, James Seguin, III (“Bubba”), and a
family friend, Matthew Perilloux (“Perilloux”),
to hunt a wounded deer. See Rec. Docs. 150 at 1;
53-3 at 2; 61-3 at 1-2. J.R. was carrying a Remington Model
710 bolt-action rifle (“the rifle”). Rec. Doc.
150 at 1. The party moved through the woods in a single file
in the following order: Perilloux, J.R., Precious, and then
Bubba. Rec. Docs. 53-3 at 3; 61-3 at 2. Plaintiff maintains
that, at one point, she bent over, facing the opposite
direction of the group, to look for a blood trail. Rec. Doc.
61-3 at 2. The rifle, then pointed in Plaintiff's
direction, discharged and struck Plaintiff in the right
buttocks, traveling through her hip and exiting through her
right elbow. Id. at 3; see also Rec. Doc.
150 at 1.
October 24, 2014, Precious, J.R., Bubba, and Precious's
mother, Joy, filed suit against Remington, Sporting Goods
Properties, Inc. (“SPS”), and E.I. du Pont de
Nemours and Company (“E.I”). Rec. Doc. 1.
Plaintiffs amended their complaint, naming Remington as the
sole defendant. Rec. Doc. 8. They then voluntarily dismissed
SPS and E.I. Rec. Doc. 13. On July 5, 2016, this Court
granted Plaintiffs' unopposed motion to dismiss with
prejudice all claims brought by Joy, J.R., and Bubba. Rec.
Doc. 125. The only remaining claim is Precious's products
liability claim against Remington.
a telephone status conference on March 21, 2017, counsel for
both parties informed the Court that they would like to
submit cross-motions for summary judgment instead of
proceeding to trial. Rec. Doc. 146. After an extension, the
parties filed the instant motions. Rec. Docs. 151, 152. The
only issue before the Court is whether or not Plaintiff may
assert and recover on a claim for design defect under the
Louisiana Products Liability Act (“LPLA”). Rec.
Doc. 150 at 2 (citing La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§
9:2800.56, 9:2800.60). If the Court finds that Plaintiff may
assert and recover on such a claim, then, pursuant to the
parties' stipulations, judgment is to be entered in
Plaintiff's favor in the amount of $500, 000; otherwise,
judgment is to be entered in Defendant's favor,
dismissing all claims with prejudice. Rec. Docs. 150 at 2-3;
152-1 at 2. Oral arguments on the motions were received by
teleconference on Friday, May 12, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. with
parties' counsel. See Rec. Doc. 149.
argues that “[t]he decision before this [C]ourt is
whether any firearm, irrespective of how horrific the design,
can ever be the subject of a § 9:2800.60 claim.”
Rec. Doc. 151-1 at 1. In other words, assuming that Plaintiff
could demonstrate a design defect under § 9:2800.56,
this Court must determine whether or not § 9:2800.60(B)
prohibits Plaintiff from bringing such a claim against
though the issue is not before the Court, we will briefly
describe Plaintiff's allegation that the rifle's
“Walker fire control mechanism” is defectively
designed. See Rec. Doc. 151-1 at 2.
According to Plaintiff, the mechanism uses a
“connector” that “floats on top of the
trigger inside of the gun . . . .” Id. at 3.
“When the trigger is pulled, the connector is pushed
forward . . . allowing the sear to fall and fire the
rifle.” Id. Before the trigger is pulled, the
connector and sear overlap only slightly, by about 25/1000ths
of an inch. Id. at 4. Because the connector is not
bound to the trigger, it allegedly separates from the trigger
during the recoil after each firing. Id. Dirt,
debris, and manufacturing scrap can then become lodged
between the connector and the trigger. Id. If too
much debris accumulates, the connector will no longer be able
to support the sear. Id. at 5. The rifle may then
fire without the trigger being pulled if the rifle is jarred
or dropped, when the safety is released, or when the bolt is
open or closed. Id. According to Plaintiff,
“[t]here have been over 4, 000 documented complaints of
unintended discharge with respect to” the Model 710
rifle and its predecessor, the Model 700. Id. at
Plaintiff could demonstrate a design defect, Defendant argues
that recovery is precluded by § 9:2800.60(B). Rec. Doc.
152-1 at 1. Plaintiff maintains that this statute is
ambiguous and, if applied literally, would lead to an absurd
result. Rec. Doc. 154-1 at 2.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is
appropriate only if “the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). See also TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick
James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002). A
genuine issue exists if the evidence would allow a reasonable
jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
the movant must point to “portions of ‘the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323. If and when the movant carries this burden, the
non-movant must then go beyond the pleadings and present
other evidence to establish a genuine issue. Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S.
574, 586 (1986). Though, “where the non-movant bears
the burden of proof at trial, the movant may merely point to
an absence of evidence, thus shifting to the non-movant the
burden of demonstrating by competent summary judgment proof
that there is an issue of material fact warranting
trial.” Lindsey v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 16
F.3d 616, 618 (5th Cir. 1994). Conclusory rebuttals of the
pleadings are insufficient to avoid summary judgment.
Travelers Ins. Co. v. Liljeberg Enter., Inc., 7 F.3d
1203, 1207 (5th Cir. 1993).
where the parties “seek summary judgment solely on a
question of law, the usual rules about burden-shifting and
whether a genuine issue of material fact exists do not
apply.” Weeks Tractor & Supply Co., LLC v.
Arctic Cat Inc., 784 F.Supp.2d 642, 646 (W.D. La. 2011)
(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50).
LPLA provides “the exclusive theories of liability for
manufacturers for damage caused by their products.” La.
Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:2800.52. It establishes four
theories of liability: (1) a manufacturing defect under
§ 9:2800.55; (2) a design defect under § 9:2800.56;
(3) failure to adequately warn under § 9:2800.57; and
(4) failure to conform to a manufacturer's express
warranty under § 9:2800.58. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §
9:2800.54. Nevertheless, the question before this Court is
whether or not § 9:2800.60, enacted by the Louisiana
legislature in 1999, bars Plaintiff's design defect claim
against Defendant. This section, titled “Liability of
manufacturers and sellers of firearms, ” provides in
A. The legislature finds and declares that the Louisiana
Products Liability Act was not designed to impose liability
on a manufacturer or seller for the improper use of a
properly designed and manufactured product. The legislature
further finds and declares that the manufacture and sale of
firearms and ammunition by manufacturers and dealers, duly
licensed by the appropriate federal and state authorities, is
lawful activity and is not unreasonably dangerous.
B. No firearm manufacturer or seller shall be liable for any
injury, damage, or death resulting from any shooting injury
by any other person unless the claimant proves and shows that
such injury, damage, or death was proximately caused by the
unreasonably dangerous construction or composition of the
product as provided in R.S. 9:2800.55.
C. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the
contrary, no manufacturer or seller of a firearm who has
transferred that firearm in compliance with federal and state
law shall incur any liability for any action of any person
who uses a firearm in a manner which is unlawful, negligent,
or otherwise inconsistent with the purposes for which it was
D. The failure of a manufacturer or seller to insure that a
firearm has a device which would: make the firearm useable
only by the lawful owner or authorized user of the firearm;
indicate to users that a cartridge is in the chamber of the
firearm; or prevent the firearm from firing if the ammunition
magazine is removed, shall not make the firearm unreasonably
dangerous, unless such device is required by federal or state
statute or regulation.
E. (1) For the purposes of this Chapter, the potential of a
firearm to cause serious injury, damage, or death as a result
of normal function does not constitute a firearm malfunction
due to a defect in design or manufacture.
(2) A firearm may not be deemed defective in design or
manufacture on the basis of its potential to cause serious
bodily injury, property damage, or death when discharged
legally or illegally.
F. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no
manufacturer or seller of a firearm shall incur any liability
for failing to warn users of the risk that:
(1) A firearm has the potential to cause serious bodily
injury, property damage, or death when discharged ...