Marcie Vadnais

Marcie Vadnais

Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputy is one of several people across the country suing gun manufacturer Sig Sauer for alleged negligence and deceptive marketing.

The deputy, 37-year-old Marcie Vadnais, is seeking $10 million in damages.

The Sig Sauer P320 pistol is widely used by police departments, the military and general public and is marketed for its safety. Sig Sauer is quoted in marketing material that the gun will not fire unless someone pulls the trigger.

But in 2016, when the manufacturer was closing a deal with the Army, the Army found that occasionally when the gun was dropped it would fire by itself. As a condition of the deal, Sig Sauer upgraded the firearms to fix the problem, but the company then sold the pre-upgrade version to the general public for several months, according to a CNN investigation.

In February, Vadnais arrived at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy for a general instructor course. The academy does not allow live rounds and weapons inside the facility, so the deputy began stripping off the firarm. As Vadnais began feeding her belt through the first tooth of the holster, her P320 fired one round and hit her right thigh, shattering her femur, according to court documents.

At no point did Vadnais touch the trigger, and the gun was inside and covered by the Sig-manufactured holster, the documents state.

Vadnais, a seven-year veteran of LCSO, now has a steel rod holding her femur in place and still has bone fragments and shrapnel in her leg. Doctors do not know the full extent of the damage, but they say she may never be able to walk or run normally again or return to her post, according to court documents.

Vadnais' Sig Sauer was not the upgraded version of the gun.

Since the incident, LCSO has changed out all P320 guns with the upgraded model, LCSO Media Relations Manager Kraig Troxell said.

Sig Sauer issued a statement last August offering to upgrade all guns for free, and the LCSO immediately agreed “in an abundance of caution,” Troxell said. The P320 is the standard issue sidearm for all 539 sworn LCSO personnel.

In Sig Sauer’s August statement, the company said the gun met industry and government safety standards, and “the recent events indicate that dropping the P320 beyond U.S. standards for safety may cause an unintentional discharge.”

However, in the Loudoun case, the gun was not dropped, according to Troxell and to Vadnais’ court filings.

Vadnais’ lawsuit pointed out that while the P320 marketing emphasized that the gun would not fire without the trigger being pulled, the original owner’s manual said the weapon may fire without the trigger being pulled if it is dropped when the chamber is not empty.

It is standard procedure for all U.S. law enforcement agencies and the military, at a commander’s discretion, to carry pistols with a chambered round, and Sig Sauer was aware of this at the time it designed and manufactured all its pistols, including the P320, according to court documents.

The lawsuit also says Sig Sauer changed the language in its owner’s manual after a January 2017 case of a P320 gun going off by itself to say “careless and improper handling of any firearm can result in unintentional discharge.”

In addition to Vadnais’ case, a Connecticut SWAT team member said he dropped his holstered gun and it shot his knee in January 2017. A Georgia police officer said he slipped and fell, which set off his holstered P320 in October 2017, and an Orlando SWAT team member was leaving home March 29 to respond to a possible hostage situation when he dropped his holstered gun in his driveway and it discharged, shattering his tibia by his knee, CNN found.

According to the CNN investigation, four months went by from when Sig Sauer sold the upgraded guns to the Army and when they began selling the upgraded models to civilians. More than 500,000 guns without the upgrade were sold in this four-month period.

The company now only sends out the upgraded versions, but the original versions are still on the market in stores and through second-hand purchases, since the company did not recall the model.

Sig Sauer has said in court filings that it “denies any allegations that suggest that the P320 model pistol was subject to a recall or is otherwise defective.”

(13) comments

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smitty99

You should check your facts....GFM is fine for legal fees, just not legal fees supporting defense of alleged crimes. If the weapon failed like the article states (and it seems more and more of this keeps popping up with this particular one) you don't think the manufacturer should be held responsible?

Lawman

Love it when Gunnecks try to rationalize something with an inherently dangerous instrument. Statistics show you are way more likely to be harmed by your own weapon than ever being that big hero in foiling a robbery. Just another instance of a gun doing what it is supposed to do, go off.

jourhad

Any story about a gun always brings out the ignorant name-callers citing misleading statistics! The stat you are referring to includes suicide which is not relevant to the issue of a defective firearm causing injury. People are 3x more likely to be killed in an auto accident than injured by a firearm - including suicide. Back to relevant comments - Sig should have recalled the P320 instead of doing a voluntary "upgrade" when they found that the pistol could potentially discharge without a complete trigger pull. There is no excuse for their negligence. There is a GoFundMe page set up to help Officer Vadnais and her family bear the expenses associated with her expenses and her civil lawsuit. 

(Edited by staff.)

Britzimm

Has anyone done their research on this weapon. The DoD reported multiple malfunctions to Sig in 2017. The report sites 200 or more malfunctions with this weapon in 2016. Most malfunctions were corrected for the military version, but the faulty weapon was still sold to the public. The drop fire issue is the most well known issue simply because it was brought to light when a CT officer sued Sig when his fully holster weapon fell and shot him in the knee. That lawsuit is also what brought on the voluntary “upgrade.” The lawsuit was demanding a full on recall but Sig down played the issues and offered a “Voluntary upgrade” instead. Sig Sauer P320, has exhibited a number of persistent deficiencies and reliability issues through DoD testing. Including but not limited to the drop test failures.
Just like any other company, they would rather deal with a suit than recall thousands of weapon and take the chance of losing the nearly 600 million dollar contract with the military. 10 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the military contracts they’ve gained.

Britzimm

Has anyone done their research on this weapon. The DoD reported multiple malfunctions to Sig in 2017. The report sites 200 or more malfunctions with this weapon in 2016. Most malfunctions were corrected for the military version, but the faulty weapon was still sold to the public. The drop fire issue is the most well known issue simply because it was bright to light when a CT officer sued Sig when his fully holster weapon fell and shot him in the knee. That lawsuit is also what brought on the voluntary “upgrade.” The lawsuit was demanding a full on recall but Sig down played the issues and issued the “upgrade.”

“According to a study conducted in 2017 and released earlier this month, the Army’s new service pistol, a military variant of the Sig Sauer P320, has exhibited a number of persistent deficiencies and reliability issues through DoD testing, including but not limited to the drop test failures Sig has already announced voluntary recalls to correct.”

Just like any other company, they would rather deal with a suit than recall thousands of weapon and take the chance of losing the nearly 600 million dollar contract with the military. 10 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the military contracts they’ve gained.

Britzimm

A report sent to Sig by the DoD stated multiple malfunctions. The military reported to Sig approximately 200 or more malfunctions with the weapon in 2016. Sig corrected all these issues for the military but continued selling the original P320 to LE and the public. The dropfire issue only come to be well known after an officer in CT sued Sig for his injuries, after a fully holstered Sig was dropped. Sig then issued the “upgrade” since the original lawsuit was demanding a recall of all P320’s.
From DoD evaluation:
“According to a study conducted in 2017 and released earlier this month, the Army’s new service pistol, a military variant of the Sig Sauer P320, has exhibited a number of persistent deficiencies and reliability issues through DoD testing, including but not limited to the drop test failures Sig has already announced voluntary recalls to correct”

Seems to me if Sig was notified as early as 2016 of multiple issues, Sig should have corrected thr problems immediately, not just for the military.

RJ

I wonder if the LC Criminal Justice Academy has security cameras in the area where the accidental discharge happened or if someone caught the moment on their body camera. That would be a key piece of evidence in the lawsuit case.

Britzimm

 “Sig Sauer P320, has exhibited a number of persistent deficiencies and reliability issues through DoD testing, including but not limited to the drop test failures Sig has already announced voluntary recalls to correct.” So the report from the DoD and other agencies as early as 2016 finding nearly 200 other malfunctions with this weapon besides a drop fire, those doesn’t come into play? I mean I have no preference with one gun over another, but if there’s a reported issue with a firearm of any make or model, it should be fixed immediately and not just for the military. Do your research! There is no “PERFECT” condition which cause the gun to fire. You have better luck playing Russian roulette than carrying this non “upgraded” weapon.

(Edited by staff.)

Fishsticks

Something doesn't add up. The P320 fault is related to a VERY specific condition where the pistol is dropped at a very specific angle causing the momentum of the trigger to draw it back and fire the pistol. The idea that the gun went off by itself in a holster I find very hard to believe. There is no evidence or demonstration of the gun firing without the trigger moving back. Even in the case of the drop fault the trigger was moving. She's conflating the drop fault with a totally different accusation, that the gun just went off without being dropped. Sorry, I don't buy it.

CA2VA

Have to agree here...based on the account in the paper, her AD does not match or even come close to the conditions related to the Sig defect. There is a huge difference between dropping a pistol (at a specific angle no less), creating dynamic force that can dislodge the firing pin, and removing a holstered pistol from a belt.

LoudounPulse

Glocks are better

RoundHillGuy

Looks like Sig needs to get this issue worked out. Prepare for Sig fan boy responses in 3, 2, 1......

tolerantleft

Personally, I prefer Glocks.

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