The family of a 21-year-old Georgia man killed in 2021 is suing Sig Sauer, claiming he was killed after one of the company’s pistols fired after it fell from a pickup truck.
Dalton Harrell, who was a pitcher on the Florida A&M University baseball team at the time of his death, was shot in the chest in a golf cart in a country club parking lot in Bainbridge, Georgia.
According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Decatur County Superior Court, Harrell’s friend Caleb Boutwell opened the door of his pickup truck and released a Sig Sauer Model P938 pistol from the door pocket, which then fell to the ground and fired .
The lawsuit filed by Harrell’s family names both Sig Sauer and Boutwell as defendants.
“One of two things is true,” said Ramsey Prather, an attorney representing the Harrell family. “Either Caleb Boutwell didn’t pull the trigger, in which case Sig Sauer is clearly liable, or Caleb Boutwell pulled the trigger, in which case Caleb Boutwell is liable.” A jury must decide who is responsible for Dalton’s death.”
Bainbridge Police investigated Boutwell’s role in the 2021 shooting and stated that “the incident was ruled coincidental and no arrests were made”.
Sig Sauer did not respond to a request for comment on the newly filed lawsuit. NHPR could not find Boutwell for comment. According to local court officials, neither has been served with a copy of the lawsuit.
According to court filings, Sig Sauer is a member of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, an industry group that recommends that rifles, shotguns, and handguns pass a four-foot “drop test” so the gun won’t be accidentally fired.
The New Hampshire-based gunmaker has faced dozens of civil lawsuits alleging that another pistol — the popular P320 — fired without a trigger, seriously injuring both law enforcement officers and civilians.
The company claims its guns are safe.
Used by law enforcement agencies across the country, the P320 pistol was selected as the new sidearm for the US Army in 2017, a contract worth up to $580 million. According to previously filed court documents, in 2016 the Army discovered that the P320 could fire if dropped from certain angles, prompting the company to change its design.
Since then, dozens of lawsuits have been filed, including by law enforcement officers who claim they were injured when their P320s were fired without the trigger being pulled, even after the weapon in question was modified.
A federal judge in New Hampshire in 2022 dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit against the P320, seeking monetary compensation for the gun’s owners.