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MT: Horses crush hunter's head

Darby couple file lawsuit against gun maker

By PERRY BACKUS Ravalli Republic HAMILTON - A Darby couple are suing Remington Arms after one of the company's rifles allegedly misfired, panicking the man's horses and leaving him with a serious head injury as a result.

Jerry and Jeanette Shook filed suit in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

The Shooks claim the company is negligent because it didn't order a general recall of its Model 700 rifles after customers complained about its propensity to misfire when the safety is disengaged.

Remington replied in court filings that it has offered a safety modification program for pre-1982 Model 700 rifles since 2002. The company said it advertised and notified the public of the program.

The accident happened on a hunting trip on Oct. 31, 2007, in the West Fork of the Bitterroot Range, according to the Shooks' complaint.

...

Burson aimed the rifle into the air in preparation for ejecting the shells in the weapon. When he took the rifle off safety, it fired, the court records said.

The horses immediately spooked. Shook was caught between the two as they came together. He was knocked to the ground as the horses were rearing out of control. One of the horses stepped on Shook's head and his skull was fractured. He was stomped on several more times.

...

The company's troubles with the pre-1982 Model 700 rifles were well publicized after a hunting accident in 2000 claimed the life of a 9-year-old Montana boy named Gus Barber.

The Manhattan boy was shot to death as his mother was unloading her Remington Model 700 on the other side of a horse trailer in the Gravelly Mountains of southwest Montana.

Barbara Barber said later the gun went off when she released the safety with her finger nowhere near the trigger.

After learning that the same thing had happened to dozens of others across the country, the boy's father, Rich Barber, began an effort to get the company to fix the rifle.

Two years later, Remington announced it would modify the bolt lock on all bolt-action rifles made before 1982, which involved some 2.5 million rifles.

Remington said it took the action in part as a response to Gus Barber's death.

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