Former Marine’s lawsuit the latest filed by wounded uniformed and civilian users
PHILADELPHIA, PA (February 18, 2021) – A veteran Federal agent, who was shot by his own holstered Sig Sauer P320 semi-automatic service handgun, has filed a $10 million lawsuit in United States District Court alleging his injuries were the result of the gun’s potentially deadly design defects that allow it to suddenly fire without the user touching, let alone, pulling the trigger. Plaintiff-Agent Keith Slatowski, of suburban Philadelphia, is the latest casualty of the sidearm. He is jointly represented by trial attorneys from Bagnell Law, LLC, of Westport, CT, and Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky P.C., of Philadelphia. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is believed to be the first such filing in Pennsylvania.
Jeffrey S. Bagnell, who has represented numerous victims nationwide of Sig Sauer’s P320, said the complaint (Slatowski v. Sig Sauer, Inc. 2:21-cv-00729, 02.17.2021) is brought on behalf of “an exemplary, highly trained public employee, former Marine, husband and father of four, who is lucky to be alive. He is hopeful that this latest incident will finally result in Sig Sauer recalling the P320.” He added, “There are hundreds of thousands of these guns in circulation now – in the holsters of police and in households of private citizens – and we believe, based on the disturbing number of incidents to date, that they present a serious safety risk to their owners and those around them.”
The complaint, which includes claims of defective design, deceptive marketing practices, and negligence, details how 48-year-old Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Slatowski, while preparing to fire his service weapon on September 21, 2020, at a government firing range, was suddenly shot with a 9mm round without touching the trigger. Introduced in 2014 by the New Hampshire-based manufacturer, the modular P320 features a striker-fired mechanism that replaced the traditional double-action hammer.
According to the complaint, “the bullet struck him in his upper right hip and exited out the back of his lower thigh, causing substantial injury, maceration of tissue, blood loss, and nerve damage,” according to the complaint. While the manufacturer expressly warrants the gun will never fire – holstered or not – unless “you want it to”, the complaint alleges it discharged “without the trigger being pulled.” The agent’s physical and psychological injuries are detailed in the complaint.
“To this day I’m shocked that a firearms manufacturer would design, build and sell a lethal weapon knowing it could fire without the most highly trained soldier, agent, or civilian ever touching the trigger,” said Agent Slatowski following the complaint filing. “I also cannot believe that the gun maker repeatedly has blamed the victims for their own negligence, as if me, the sheriff’s deputy in Virginia whose leg was shattered, the special forces operative in Canada, on and on, were all at fault, as if we intended to shoot ourselves. They don’t confront the fact their gun is prone to defective firing and somebody’s going to get killed unless they’re recalled and fixed.”
Robert Zimmerman, of SMB, and Mr. Bagnell’s co-counsel, said that Agent Slatowski, who is unable to work and undergoing further treatment for his debilitating injuries, recognizes the importance of the justice system to hold Sig Sauer responsible for its actions. Unlike manufacturers of other consumer and workplace products, such as automobiles, industrial equipment and machinery, and household appliances, gun makers have not fallen under the jurisdiction of federal safety agencies, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“Everyone can agree that a gun should not discharge unless it is intended. Tragically, that is what happened here when this product defectively discharged a bullet into the leg of a highly trained and well-respected law enforcement officer. As outlined in the complaint, Sig Sauer has claimed that the P320 meets ‘federal government standards for gun safety,’ which is all part of its spin campaign to cover up its failure to protect its customers and the public from harm. Instead of doing the right thing – recalling the gun and making it safe for every owner – it has repeatedly put profits over safety. Mr. Bagnell is widely recognized at the forefront of litigators successfully representing victims of the defective P320. It was ideal to partner with him in this case given our firm’s extensive experience and results in litigating complex product liability cases regionally and nationally. As a team, we’re working to hold Sig Sauer accountable for its actions at trial.” SMB’s Larry Bendesky is also counsel-of-record.
Mr. Bagnell last year filed a nearly identical complaint (Jinn vs. Sig Sauer, Inc.,1:2020cv01122) in the Southern District of New York on behalf of a Homeland Security Investigations special agent who in 2019, while training at a Bronx firing range, was wounded when his service P320 defectively fired a round. His other P320 victims include former Loudon County, Virginia Sherriff’s Deputy Marcie Vadnais (her career ended in 2018 when, without touching the trigger, her holstered gun fired, shattering her leg), said, “These un-commanded discharges of P320s have happened all over the country. Only blocks from where this lawsuit is being filed, a SEPTA Transit Police Officer’s P320 fired while he was on duty in Suburban station in August 2019. It was only sheer luck that neither he nor nearby bystanders were hit. It is not okay that this keeps happening.”
The complaint also states that defendant’s conduct was so egregious that it goes “beyond all possible bounds of decency, and be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
Coverage Note: Agent Slatowski is presently unavailable for media interviews. His legal team can be reached as noted below.