blog home Firm News Gun manufacturer Sig Sauer sued for causing the death of 21 year old Bainbridge Georgia resident

Gun manufacturer Sig Sauer sued for causing the death of 21 year old Bainbridge Georgia resident

By Butler Prather LLP on June 7, 2023

June 6, 2023

Contact: Ramsey B. Prather ; 800-242-2962
Daniel E. Philyaw; 800-242-2962

Gun manufacturer Sig Sauer sued for causing the death of 21 year old Bainbridge Georgia resident

Sig Sauer, Inc., a New Hampshire manufacturer of handguns, has been sued for causing the death of 21 year old Dalton Harrell of Bainbridge Georgia on December 15, 2021. Dalton was a student at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee Florida and a star pitcher for the baseball team who was being scouted by professional baseball.

Dalton was home for the Christmas holidays and playing golf that day with a group of friends, including Caleb Boutwell of Bainbridge. Dalton was driving the group’s golf cart and gave Caleb a ride to Caleb’s truck. When Caleb opened the door of his truck, his Sig Sauer P938 pistol fell out of the pocket in the door, hit the ground, and fired. The bullet entered Dalton’s chest as he sat in the golf cart. Dalton fell to the ground and died on the scene.

In interviews with law enforcement personnel Caleb insisted he had not touched the gun, and that the trigger of the pistol was not touched. Sig Sauer has been plagued by reports of such incidents with its pistols, most notably the P320 model. Sig Sauer has been sued numerous times for such “drop fire” incidents.

The Harrell family is represented by James E. Butler, Jr., Ramsey B. Prather, Daniel E. Philyaw, and Caroline Schley of Butler Prather of Georgia; Jeff Bagnell of Westport Connecticut; Billy Mathis of Albany Georgia, and David Kendrick of Bainbridge Georgia. (Butler, Philyaw and Schley won a $135.5 million verdict in April 2023; Butler & Philyaw won a $1.724 billion verdict against Ford Motor Company in August 2022. Bagnell has represented injured victims of Sig Sauer pistols in 12 other cases.)

“One of two things is true,” said Prather, “Either Caleb Boutwell did not pull the trigger, in which event Sig Sauer is clearly liable, or Caleb Boutwell did pull the trigger, in which event Caleb Boutwell is liable. A jury is going to have to decide who is at fault for Dalton’s death.”

“Sig Sauer has known for years about many incidents where its pistols fire without anyone touching the trigger – most often when the pistol is merely dropped,” said Bagnell. “Sig Sauer pistols have injured almost 200 law enforcement officers and civilians.” 1

“This is a tragedy that should never have happened,” said Philyaw. “Sig Sauer knew about a drop fire defect in its pistols but did not warn anyone.”

“Dalton Harrell was an exceptional young man from a fine family with his whole life ahead of him,” said Butler, who is lead counsel for the Harrell family.

The lawsuit was filed today, June 6, 2023, in the Superior Court of Decatur County Georgia (Bainbridge).

The lawsuit makes no specific demand for a dollar figure. It seeks recovery for the wrongful death of Dalton Harrell which, in the words of the Plaintiffs’ Complaint, “under Georgia law, is the full value of the life of Dalton Harrell to himself as though he had lived and not been killed, both the intangible value of his life and the economic value of his life.” Complaint, ¶87. The lawsuit also seeks compensatory damages for the pain & suffering endured by Dalton Harrell before he died, and punitive damages against Sig Sauer.

The lawsuit claims that Sig Sauer “acted with conscious indifference to the safety and well-being of the public,” (¶74) and that “Sig Sauer’s misconduct was a reckless and wanton disregard for safety.” ¶76.

A copy of the Complaint is attached to this press release.

1See Jose Pagliery, CNN, Trigger warning: The Army got upgraded guns. For months, the public didn’t. Now, law enforcement officers are suing over a pistol that can fire when you drop it, (June 6, 2018); see also Champe Barton & Tom Jackman, The Washington Post, Popular handgun fires without anyone pulling the trigger, victims say, / (April 11, 2023) (“More than 100 people allege that their P320 pistols discharged when they did not pull the trigger, an eight-month investigation by The Washington Post and The Trace has found. At least 80 people were wounded in the shootings, which date to 2016.”).

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