Court Approves Remington Trigger Settlement -- Finally
The Remington class-action settlement over defective rifle triggers probably took longer to hammer out than it took to make the rifles.
Four years after the original settlement, a federal appeals court finally approved a fourth version of the agreement in Pollard v. Remington Arms Company. The U.S. Eighth Circuit affirmed the deal making some gun owners eligible for trigger replacements and others for a $12 voucher.
The main settlement terms were not the problem; it was the notice to about 7.5 million gun owners. Their response was well short of the mark.
A year after the parties settled, they executed a court-approved plan for giving notice. It included:
- 700 posters mailed to Remington vendors
- 2,500 postcards to people who paid for trigger replacements
- Banners displayed on internet websites 970,000 times
- Press releases on websites with audiences of more than 21 million
- Ads in magazines with a combined circulation of more than 36 million
It didn't work; they received about 2,300 claims -- a response rate of 0.1 percent. So they tried again, and again.
The fourth amended agreement included notice by: a targeted radio campaign to reach 61 million; one million email culled from Remington's records; postcards to 93,000 Remington customer addresses; posters at more than 11,000 retail locations.
This time, they got more than 20,000 claims. The district court ultimately approved the plan, but several individuals objected.
Low Response Rate
On appeal, the Eighth Circuit considered the adequacy of the fourth iteration. The appeals court approved it as the best notice that was "practical under the circumstances."
In a footnote, the panel noted that "a low response rate may not be a relevant consideration" in light of the de minimius benefit of a $12 voucher. Class members may have opted out for various reasons.
"Perhaps they are satisfied with their firearms and see no reason to submit a claim," the judges said. "Class members that are entitled to a $10 or $12 voucher might find that the effort it takes to submit a claim is not a worthwhile investment of their time."
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