SIG Sauer filed a lawsuit against Jeffrey S. Bagnell, Esq., LLC, and Jeffrey S. Bagnell (the individual) alleging misrepresentations in an animated video of the internals of the P320 pistol. SIG claims that the animation is “plainly false and inaccurate.” The respondent’s website states that the animation was based on “CT scan images and microscopic photography.”
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Before we dig any deeper, it is important to emphasize that we only have SIG’s side of the story. Mr. Bagnell has not yet filed an answer to SIG’s complaint. Also, none of these claims have been proven in a court of law and, at this point, they are only allegations. It is also worth noting that the complaint is 18 pages long and this article is only a summary of certain points raised therein. This is not a comprehensive analysis of every claim in the lawsuit.
SIG’s complaint centers on the animation’s alleged misrepresentation of various safety features on the P320. The stated issues include the depiction of the striker, sear, and striker safety lock and notch. Each of these areas is broken down in the lawsuit with illustrative pictures from actual P320s side-by-side with the animation. Several of SIG’s images also state clearly that a pre-2017 upgrade gun is being photographed.
The SAfety Lock
SIG claims that the depiction of the safety lock in the animation differs from the design of the pre-2017 safety lock. The complaint states that the actual safety lock fits tightly against the striker and has straight edges, as opposed to the loose fit and rounded edges depicted.
The Safety Notch
SIG’s complaint states that the safety notch is misrepresented in the animation. The animation depicts the safety notch as a small squared-off step. SIG claims this is misleading because the actual safety notch is much larger and features a rounded corner against a rounded opening. The complaint also states that the geometry depicted in the animation makes this safety mechanism appear ineffective.
The Striker foot housing
The animation describes a loose fit and excessive space between the striker foot and its housing and channel. This could theoretically allow the striker foot to rotate and slip out. SIG states that this is impossible because the space between these parts is less than 0.005 of an inch. Interestingly, SIG used a CT scan to depict the internal fitment of the striker housing rather than normal photography. This is presumably due to the impossibility of viewing these parts when the gun is assembled.
The sear and striker foot interface
Also, the animation focuses on the sear and striker foot interface on the P320. The animation depicts the sear as an uneven surface. SIG’s lawsuit includes an image of a pre-2017 P320 sear which is visibly smooth, unlike the sear surface in the animation.
Similarly, the striker foot is depicted as having a “rollover condition” much like the sear. SIG also states that the shape of the striker foot is inaccurate and misrepresents the amount of engagement between the sear and striker foot.
While I am not an expert in this area of law, I suspect the respondent will present some kind of evidence showing that the uneven surface exists in at least one P320. Indeed, the animation refers to the uneven surface as “rollover” and states that it is a manufacturing defect. The term “Manufacturing Defect” is legally significant and indicates that the faulty construction of the part led to the failure, not the design of the product itself. This may be easier to prove than a design defect because only one example of the defect needs to cause harm, rather than proving that the entire design is faulty.
The lawsuit refers to the animation being posted on YouTube. As of the evening of March 3, 2022, it was still online and showed 40,697 views. The complaint also claims that the animation was referenced on the SIG Talk website. It is also posted on Mr. Bagnell’s website, in addition to several lawsuits against SIG Sauer regarding the P320.
SIG claims that the YouTube comments have been “carefully curat[ed]” to remove any negative statements. Combined with the alleged misrepresentations of the P320 safety mechanisms, SIG states that this public video is harming its reputation and confusing consumers. SIG requests a preliminary injunction against Mr. Bagnell, which would force him to remove the animation from YouTube and his website during the pendency of the case. In addition to the injunction, SIG seeks various monetary damages and a permanent injunction against the publication of the animation.
The animation video ends with a quote from SIG’s press release entitled “SIG SAUER Reaffirms Safety of P320 Pistol,” dated August 4, 2017.
All SIG SAUER pistols incorporate effective mechanical safeties to ensure they only fire when the trigger is pressed. However, like any mechanical device, exposure to acute conditions (e.g. shock, vibration, heavy or repeated drops) may have a negative effect on these safety mechanisms and cause them to not work as designed. This language is common to owner’s manuals of major handgun manufacturers.
Again, at this time we only have SIG’s side of the story, as the respondent has not filed an answer. While great pains have been taken to fairly represent the claims in the lawsuit, they are only claims at this time. But we will be sure to keep you updated as this case develops.
SIG Sauer’s press release regarding the lawsuit:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
sigsauer.com | 72 Pease Boulevard | Newington, NH 03801
SIG SAUER Statement on Sig Sauer, Inc. vs. Jeffrey S. Bagnell, Esq., LLC
and Jeffrey S. Bagnell
NEWINGTON, N.H., (March 3, 2022) – Today SIG SAUER Inc., filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the District of New Hampshire against attorney Jeffrey Bagnell and the Bagnell Law Firm, in relation to false and defamatory statements about, and animations of, the P320 model pistol. The animations in question, created by a litigation support firm with no apparent expertise in firearms engineering or design, are published to Mr. Bagnell’s firm website and YouTube channel with the apparent intent to harm SIG SAUER’s reputation.
Specifically, Sig Sauer, Inc. vs. Jeffery S. Bagnell, Esq., LLC and Jeffrey S. Bagnell alleges that Mr. Bagnell has published a plainly false and inaccurate animation of the P320, in an effort to induce a belief in consumers that the P320 is unsafe, and to attract new clients for the Bagnell Law Firm. These falsities and inaccuracies include, among others, “false depictions of key internal components” of the P320, specifically the striker, sear, and striker safety lock and notch. These misrepresentations are then used to support false “assertions about the mechanics of the firearm that are physically impossible” in order to make consumers believe that the P320 can discharge without a trigger pull.
As detailed in the complaint filed in this lawsuit, a basic visual examination of an actual P320 quickly illustrates extensive and flagrant falsities depicted in the animation. The degree of such flagrance is illustrated in this excerpt from the complaint, comparing the depiction of the firearm sear in the animation to an actual P320 sear:
Similar misrepresentations are made in the animation regarding the P320’s striker, striker safety lock, and striker safety notch. The animation even shows separate solid components of the firearm occupying the same space – a physical impossibility – in an effort to support their theory as to how the firearm can discharge without a trigger pull.
SIG SAUER believes that these misrepresentations are willful in nature and is taking action, with the filing of this complaint, to ensure that Mr. Bagnell is not allowed to continue deceiving the public about the safety of the P320 and use such deceptions in an attempt to generate business for his legal practice. SIG SAUER is confident that it will prevail on the merits of this case.
The P320 pistol is the most tested, proven, and successful handgun in recent small arms history. It has endured extremely rigorous testing to become the official sidearm of all branches of the U.S. Military, The Department of Homeland Security, as well as military and law enforcement agencies worldwide. The U.S. Army procurement office recently hailed the P320-based M17/M18 as the “safest, most reliable, most accurate handgun ever procured by the U.S. Military.” With over two million P320’s in service, it is one of the most widely carried firearms in the world today.
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About SIG SAUER, Inc.
SIG SAUER, Inc. is a leading provider and manufacturer of firearms, electro-optics, ammunition, airguns, suppressors, and training. For over 250 years SIG SAUER, Inc. has evolved, and thrived, by blending American ingenuity, German engineering, and Swiss precision. Today, SIG SAUER is synonymous with industry-leading quality and innovation which has made it the brand of choice amongst the U.S. Military, the global defense community, law enforcement, competitive shooters, hunters, and responsible citizens. Additionally, SIG SAUER is the premier provider of elite firearms instruction and tactical training at the SIG SAUER Academy. Headquartered in Newington, New Hampshire, SIG SAUER has over 2,700 employees across eleven locations. For more information about the company and product line