The Loudoun Times-Mirror website is reporting that a Loudoun County (Virginia) deputy has filed a lawsuit against SIG Sauer alleging that her fully-holstered P320 duty weapon discharged and sent a bullet into her leg.
According to the newspaper’s account, the incident occurred this year on Feb. 7, “when 37-year-old Loudoun County Deputy Marcie Vadnais went to the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy to attend a general instructor course.”
The Times-Mirror further reported, “In accordance with academy policy, Deputy Vadnais began removing her firearm from her belt when she arrived.”
According to the lawsuit, as she fed the belt through the holster’s first tooth, her SIG Sauer P320 somehow “fired one nine millimeter bullet, which hit her in the upper right thigh.”
“At no time during this incident did she touch the trigger, which at all times was inside and covered by a SIG-manufactured holster,” the lawsuit reads. The round shattered the deputy’s femur in several places and caused “massive blood loss and other internal injuries,” according to the suit.
Deputy Vadnais, a seven-year veteran of the force, still has shrapnel and bone fragments embedded in her leg. A steel rod now holds her femur in place.
“At Gun Tests, our shooters have had no problems with the P320 in terms of reliability and had no malfunctions with it,” said Todd Woodard, editor of Gun Tests magazine. “We gave it a ‘Grade B’ rating in our first report on it in 2015. Many of our readers have told us they won’t buy ‘B’-rated guns. Especially when there was another handgun in the test, a Heckler & Koch VP9 9mm Luger, which earned a ‘Grade A’ rating and was ‘Our Pick.'”
“In the November 2016 issue, we tested a different version, the SIG Sauer P320 Carry 320CA-9-BSS, which earned an ‘A’ grade,” Woodard said.
“If our team had experienced a safety problem with a test firearm like what’s been reported,” Woodard said, “we would have given the P320 an ‘F’ or failing grade — and we would have unequivocably told our readers not to buy it. But we bought two over-the-counter handguns and simply didn’t have a problem with them.”
Still, Woodard said, “It’s incumbent on us to follow up our reviews with some of the reported problems and legal actions affecting the P320.”
In the most recent legal action, Deputy Vadnais is seeking $10 million in damages and to have SIG Sauer recall the pistol. In the suit, the deputy suggested that the company issue an “enhanced, unambiguous warning to all purchasers of the P320, stating that it can fire without a trigger pull in its existing condition.”
SIG has released a statement that “reaffirms the safety of the P320 pistol”:
In response to social media rumors questioning the safety of the P320 pistol, a variant of which was selected by the U.S. government as the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS), SIG SAUER, Inc. has full confidence in the reliability, durability and safety of its striker-fired handgun platform. There have been zero (0) reported drop-related P320 incidents in the U.S. commercial market, with hundreds of thousands of guns delivered to date.
The P320 meets and exceeds all U.S. standards for safety, including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc. (SAAMI), as well as rigorous testing protocols for global military and law enforcement agencies.
All SIG SAUER pistols incorporate effective mechanical safeties to ensure they only fire when the trigger is pressed. However, like any mechanical device, exposure to acute conditions (e.g. shock, vibration, heavy or repeated drops) may have a negative effect on these safety mechanisms and cause them to not work as designed. This language is common to owner’s manuals of major handgun manufacturers.
As a result, individual attempts to perform drop tests outside of professionally controlled environments should not be attempted.
“SIG SAUER is committed to producing only the finest products,” said Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER. “Safety and reliability have been and always will be paramount to the SIG SAUER brand.”
For more information on SIG Sauer safety:
3. SIG SAUER Issues Voluntary Upgrade of P320 Pistol (August 2017)
5. Trigger Warning (CNN, June 6, 2018)
6. Vincent A. Sheperis Civil Suit (Stamford, CT; January 5, 2017)