Century Arms has long dominated the “bargain” end of the American AK market. They are able to undercut many other AK assemblers on price because they use manufacturing processes that focus on putting firearms together quickly… and apparently with minimal quality checks. This has led to what can charitably called a “spotty” reputation for their rifles, where some work great, while others simply didn’t work correctly right out of the box.
In their defense, Century has made what appears to be a concerted effort to put their guns together a bit better in recent years, which suggests that they’re using better tools, better processes, and better-trained employees.
Or maybe not.
A St. Louis man is suing the designers of certain AK-47 rifles, alleging the rifles fire even when in the safety position.
J. Steven Erickson, individually and for all others similarly situated, filed a class action lawsuit Jan. 19 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Century International Arms, Century Arms, Century Arms of Vermont, and Century International Arms of Vermont, alleging negligence, strict liability, breach of express and implied warranties, concealment, misrepresentation, and violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
According to the complaint, the defendants design, test, manufacture, assemble, market, supply, and distribute certain AK-47 rifles. The suit says these rifles have a common design defect that allows the rifles to fire when the safety is pulled, placed, or pushed above the safety lock, creating an unreasonably dangerous situation for any person possessing one of the rifles.
The lawsuit further alleges the defendants fraudulently concealed and intentionally failed to warn of the defect.
I’ll be surprised to see this case proceed to court, as lawsuits of this type are typically settled out of court relatively quickly and quietly by manufacturers. In the long run, settling a case is often both cheaper and draws less negative press, especially if the plaintiffs case has merit.
If the case does go to court, it will be a fascinating case to watch, as I don’t think what he’s describing is a “design defect” with the basic AKM design itself. What Erickson’s case seems to describe seems to be either a parts quality and/or an assembly-related issue that probably should not have made it past QA inspections at Century Arms.
If it goes to court, it will also be interesting to see whether this issue affects all of Century’s AKs, or just a specific variant or several variants not explicitly named in the article.
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Also note that the very existence of the case guts the claim made by Hillary Clinton that gun manufacturers can’t be sued.
Clinton has campaigned hard on variations of the following false statement:
“So far as I know, the gun industry and gun sellers are the only business in America that is totally free of liability for their behavior. Nobody else is given that immunity. And that just illustrates the extremism that has taken over this debate.”
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) that Hillary wants to dismantle only protects gun companies against frivolous lawsuits. Cases like this one against Century, alleging “negligence, strict liability, breach of express and implied warranties, concealment, misrepresentation” and other state-level charges, are explicitly allowed under the law, as you would expect against any manufacturer of a defective product.
PLCAA only protects manufacturers against gun control zealots that want to sue companies for making firearms and ammunition that works, such as when the disgusting vultures of the Brady Campaign attempted to sue accessory and ammunition companies after the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting for lawfully selling functioning products to a non-prohibited person. The judge in that case angrily threw out the frivolous suit.
The case against Century proves that companies making allegedly defective products can be sued.
It’s too bad no one in the Clinton camp has the integrity to admit that her line of attack is entirely dishonest.