Aleksich v. Remington Arms Co.
Public Justice represented Richard Barber in his efforts to obtain public access to the court file in Aleksich v. Remington, a personal injury case involving defects in the firing mechanism of Remington gun manufacturer’s popular 700-series rifle. The case settled in 1995 and was subsequently sealed in its entirety. Mr. Barber sought to unseal the court file to enable the public to obtain access to volumes of documents demonstrating that the defective trigger mechanism of the 700-series rifle causes the gun to discharge without a trigger pull. The documents further demonstrate that Remington has known of the dangerous defects in its rifles since the 1940s.
After granting Mr. Barber’s motion to intervene in the case in early 2012, a Montana Federal District Court ruled in September 2012 that the entire case file — except for details regarding the amount of the settlement — should be unsealed.
Staff attorneys Amy Radon and Leslie Bailey were lead counsel in the case. Bill Rossbach of Rossbach Hart, PC, in Missoula, Mont., and Richard Ramler of Ramler Law Office, P.C., in Belgrade, Mont., were co-counsel.
- Leslie Bailey
- Bill Rossbach of Rossbach Hart, PC, in Missoula, Mont., and Richard Ramler of Ramler Law Office, P.C., in Belgrade, Mont.
- remington rifles, model 700, court secrecy, defective rifles, defective trigger pull, richard barber, leslie bailey, amy radon, consumers rights, access to justice, aleksich, montana, montana district court, motion to intervene, motion to unseal, remington model 700, tragedy
Order partially granting Barber's motion to unsealThe court granted Mr. Barber's motion to unseal the remaining court records, ruling that the only records to remain sealed are a handful of documents that contain specific information about the monetary terms of the settlement agreement reached between Remington and the Aleksich family.
Docket: U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, No. 2:91-cv-00005-RFC
Reply brief in support of motion to unseal Aleksich court filings
Brief in support of Richard Barber's motion to unseal Aleksich court filingsThis brief requests that the court unseal the remaining documents in the court record so that the public can have access to the complete court record. It further explains that among the still-secret documents is the transcript of a hearing believed to involve allegations that Remington hid critical evidence about its defective rifles from the Aleksiches, the court, and the public.
Order partially unsealing court fileAfter reviewing the sealed file, the court ruled that "there is no reason for sealing the entire case," and released most of the documents.
Docket: D. Mont. No. 91-05
Order granting Richard Barber's motion to interveneThe court ruled that Mr. Barber may intervene in the case in order to seek public access to the sealed court records. Judge Cebull emphasized that the "public right to access court exists for cases decided a hundred years ago as surely as it does for lawsuits now," and that Remington -- which opposed Mr. Barber's involvement -- had failed to show how intervention would harm the company.
Docket: D. Mont. No. 91-05
Reply in support of motion to intervene
Brief in support of Richard Barber's motion to interveneThis brief argued that Mr. Barber's motion to intervene was proper even though proceedings in the case had ended several years previously, because the public's right to access court records remains strong; there are ongoing public safety concerns with the Remington 700-series rifles; and the parties would not be prejudiced by Barber's intervention.
Richard Barber's motion to intervene
Declaration of Richard Barber in support of his motion to intervene and motion to unsealIn his own words, Mr. Barber tells the story of the rifle malfunction that killed his son, and describes Remington records that prove the company knew about the defect but kept it hidden from the public through confidentiality orders.