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Defective Holster Shoots Manufacturer in the Foot (PA)

November 17, 2016

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<a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Of-interest-article-11.16.16.pdf">A Philadelphia jury awarded a police officer plaintiff $2.6 million</a> after he was injured by an allegedly defective gun holster.  Pennsylvania State Trooper, Jesse Oleksza was injured when his gun discharged into his leg, while in his holster.  According to his pretrial memo, Oleksza was getting his gym bag from out of his police car when his Glock 37 pistol went off.  It was held in a Gould &amp; Goodrich holster.
Oleksza alleged that a foreign object had managed to lodge itself in the holster due to a defect and thus caused the pistol to fire.  An internal affairs investigation cleared Oleksza of any wrongdoing and found that an object like a key could discharge the firearm if inserted into the holster and trigger area.  Oleksza contended the holster was defective for failing to properly protect the trigger and sought recovery based on negligence, strict liability, and breach of implied warranties.
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Gould &amp; Goodrich contended that warnings on the holster stated that users should ensure that the trigger area is kept clear and to make sure that foreign objects stay out of the holster.  The manufacturer also contended that Oleksza was aware of the danger of letting foreign objects into his holster from his training.  In addition, a state investigation found no holster defect, and they argued that it is impossible to design a holster that prevents all objects from entering it.
Plaintiff’s counsel also presented ten state troopers to testify in the case as to the defectiveness of the holster.  The jury was also shown pictures of other holsters that showed more trigger protection than the Gould &amp; Goodrich one.  The jury was asked to decide whether the defect was a cause of harm under the consumer expectations test and the risk utility test, and they found that the holster was defectively designed and manufactured.
This case displays the potential big payouts of products liability cases, even if there are numerous warnings and training for a product.  We suspect the testimony of the ten other officers were persuasive to the jury.  Thanks to Peter Cardwell for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:BGibbons@wcmlaw.com">Brian Gibbons</a> with any questions.

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