A lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Mark Lanier of Houston, confirmed in an e-mail that the settlement agreement does not include a recall, and does not prevent Remington from continuing to use the design in question.
"A recall is something with legal obligations and indicates an accepted defect," Lanier wrote. "Here, Remington does not believe the firing mechanisms are defective, and there are experts and customers who agree with them."
But Lanier says Remington agreed to replace the triggers anyway "to ensure a satisfied client base."
Keating says it is not surprising that class-action plaintiffs would settle for something short of a recall, as long as the company is willing to offer a replacement.
"If you're getting what you want going forward, do you want to fight about what Remington says looking backward?"
Besides, federal law makes it nearly impossible to force a gun manufacturer to institute a recall. While the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can order recalls for a wide variety of products, the law governing the agency specifically excludes firearms, under a provision staunchly defended by gun rights advocates.
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Remington did twice consider recalling the 700 series, in 1979 and in 1994, but ultimately rejected the idea, in part because of the cost.
Keating says companies that avoid recalls due to liability concerns are repeating a "depressingly familiar pattern" in American business—the company might insulate itself from lawsuits in the near term, but invite future claims if the product continues to malfunction.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that governmental purchasers of firearms are specifically excluded from the Remington class-action settlement.