The family of a Florida college baseball player is suing one of the United States’ largest gun manufacturers after their son was killed by a defective gun his friend accidentally dropped.
The parents of Dalton Harrell, a 21-year-old student at Florida A&M University, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Tuesday. They are accusing gun manufacturer Sig Sauer of negligence, liability and failure to warn after one of its most popular handguns misfired and fatally shot Harrell in the chest on Dec. 15, 2021, according to the lawsuit.
“This tragedy should not have occurred; the gun should not have fired,” the lawsuit says. “Sig Sauer’s defective design of the gun and Sig Sauer’s failure to warn about the risk known to Sig Sauer that the gun would fire when dropped without anyone pulling the trigger is what caused the injuries to and death of Dalton Harrell.”
According to a news release from the family’s attorney, the incident occurred in the parking lot of Bainbridge Country Club in Bainbridge, Georgia, while Harrell was home from school for the holidays.
Harrell and his friend Caleb Boutwell, who is also being sued, finished playing a round of golf and headed to the parking lot, where Harrell parked the golf cart close to the driver’s side of Boutwell’s truck.
As Boutwell opened the driver’s side door, the door struck the golf cart. The impact opened a compartment on the truck’s door, where Boutwell’s loaded P938 handgun was stored. The gun dropped less than 4 feet onto the ground and fired a bullet into Harrell’s chest.
According to the document, the bullet pierced Harrell’s right bicep before making its way through the right side of his chest.
“Dalton Harrell was an exceptional young man from a fine family with his whole life ahead of him,” James Butler, lead counsel for the Harrell family, said in the news release.
The lawsuit accused Sig Sauer of negligence for designing a defective gun that fires when the trigger is not pulled. Lawyers alleged the company was aware of the gun’s dangerous flaws but that the weapon was never recalled or given a safety warning. The handgun is still listed on its website for purchase.
“This is a tragedy that should never have happened,” Daniel Philyaw, the plaintiffs’ attorney said. “Sig Sauer knew about a drop fire defect in its pistols but did not warn anyone.”
Boutwell is being sued by the family for negligence by not storing his pistol in a safe place.
This is not the first lawsuit Sig Sauer has faced because of one of its handgun models. In November and March, several groups filed a federal lawsuit against the gun manufacturer, calling its P320 the “most dangerous pistol sold in the United State market.”
Sig Sauer handguns are used by thousands of local and federal law enforcement agencies across the U.S., The Washington Post reported. According to the federal lawsuit, there have been at least 150 incidents when the manufacturer’s pistol discharged by mistake, causing severe injury to the user or bystanders.
Sig Sauer did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for a comment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there have been 549 unintentional deaths in the U.S. as a result of firearms since 2021.