Alpharetta man wins $2.3M verdict against gun manufacturer Sig Sauer

Company denies alleged pistol defect, plans to appeal
The factory of gun maker Sig Sauer near Exeter, New Hampshire, on June 4, 2022. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

The factory of gun maker Sig Sauer near Exeter, New Hampshire, on June 4, 2022. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

An Alpharetta man has won $2.3 million at trial against gun maker Sig Sauer after being shot in the thigh while removing his holstered pistol from his belt.

Robert Lang claimed Sig Sauer defectively designed its P320 model and failed to warn customers about the potential for it to discharge unintentionally. A jury in the federal trial court in Atlanta agreed, awarding Lang $2.3 million in damages on Thursday.

Sig Sauer “strongly disagrees” with the verdict and will appeal it, the company said in a news release.

“There are no facts on the record to support that Mr. Lang’s discharge claim was the result of anything other than his own negligent handling causing him to pull the trigger on the P320 pistol,” Sig Sauer said.

Lang, 37, claimed the pistol fired while inside the holster, where he couldn’t reach the trigger, as he attempted to unclip the holster from his belt. He said a bullet tore through his upper right thigh, exiting just above his knee.

The jury found that Lang was not negligent in handling his Sig Sauer pistol, which he bought in March 2018 for just over $700.

The incident happened in December 2018 at Lang’s then-home in Roswell.

Robert Zimmerman, one of Lang’s lawyers, said Lang was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to the incident and has recurring nightmares about what could have happened if the gun had discharged around his young son. Lang has permanent nerve damage that sometimes sends “electric pain” through his right leg, as well as foot problems associated with the altered way in which he has to walk, Zimmerman said.

“For Mr. Lang, it wasn’t just about receiving compensation,” Zimmerman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “From the start, his main concern was that this might or will happen to somebody else.”

Sig Sauer said its P320 model is safe and “among the most tested, proven, and successful handguns in recent history.”

Zimmerman said Sig Sauer hasn’t addressed the problem alleged by Lang and other users of the “pre-cocked” P320 pistol, which has no “external safety” for the trigger. He said Sig Sauer is the only gun maker to produce such a pistol, which should have a “tabbed trigger” to prevent spontaneous firing.

“In the aftermath of this significant verdict, we renew our call for Sig Sauer to redesign this pistol for the protection of its many law enforcement and private citizen customers,” Zimmerman said.

Lang, who has a Georgia weapons carry license, had been around firearms his entire life, taken shooting lessons and spent hundreds of hours practicing at a gun range, case records show. He bought a holster designed for his Sig Sauer P320 as a safety measure.

Lang is one of more than 60 plaintiffs represented by Zimmerman’s Philadelphia-based law firm in similar cases against Sig Sauer, most of which are pending in New Hampshire. Lang’s case was the first to reach trial, Zimmerman said. His other clients include a Georgia prosecutor whose pistol also discharged spontaneously.

“We’re very pleased,” Zimmerman said of the verdict. “Mr. Lang has been waiting a long time for his day in court. Sig Sauer continues to blame Mr. Lang for this incident when the true culprit is a dangerous and defective gun.”

Georgia gun maker Taurus also faces defective design allegations, about its GX4 range of pistols. A class-action lawsuit was filed against the Bainbridge-headquartered manufacturer in November, alleging the pistols can fire when dropped. Taurus has asked a Georgia federal judge to dismiss the case.