The federal judge overseeing a proposed class action settlement involving millions of allegedly defective Remington firearms says the parties can go ahead with a revised plan to notify gun owners of their right to get the triggers replaced.
But in a unique twist, the judge is delaying final approval of the settlement until he sees how many people file claims.
The case involves Remington's popular Model 700 rifle as well as a dozen other models with a similar design, which were the subject of a 2010 CNBC documentary and a follow-up investigation last year. Plaintiffs allege that for decades, Remington covered up a design flaw that allowed the guns to fire without the trigger being pulled, resulting in at least two dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Remington denies the allegations and says the guns are safe, but agreed in 2014 to replace the triggers on some 7 million guns free of charge in order to end the costly litigation once and for all.
But the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith in Kansas City, balked at the agreement and sent the parties back to the drawing board after only a handful of gun owners responded to the initial offer.
"The Court cannot conceive that an owner of an allegedly defective firearm would not seek the remedy being provided," Smith wrote in December.
The parties came back with a revised plan in June, developed in part by former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, that added social media, talk radio, and internet banner ads to the original direct mail and print campaign designed to alert gun owners of the offer.
That plan drew even more criticism, including a scathing letter to the court from an authority on class action settlement notices — Philadelphia-based consultant Todd Hilsee — who wrote last month that the plan was "designed to fail," and seemed geared more toward addressing "Remington's public relations concerns" than actually getting guns fixed.
Remington and the plaintiffs fired back with their own expert, calling Hilsee's letter "false, rife with misinformation, and derived from a foregone era of media consumption."