Federal Court Unseals Remington Rifle Court Documents

Federal Court Unseals Remington Rifle Court Documents

A federal district court in Montana has ruled that the public should have access to court documents that had been sealed 17 years ago in Aleksich v. Remington, a case charging that defects in a popular Remington rifle caused the rifle to fire without anyone pulling the trigger.

Public Justice sought access to the court documents on behalf of Montana father Richard Barber, whose nine-year-old son Gus was killed when the family’s Remington Model 700 rifle misfired after a family hunting trip. U.S. District Court Judge Cebull earlier this year that Barber could intervene in the Aleksich case, which had settled in 1995 and was sealed in its entirety shortly thereafter.

While Judge Cebull found in February that most of the Aleksich documents were improperly sealed because of a procedural mistake, about 18 Aleksich documents remained hidden from the public until the September 4 ruling unsealing them.

“Judge Cebull flatly rejected Remington’s argument that the court documents in Aleksich should remain under seal, finding no compelling reasons for continued secrecy of these documents,” said Public Justice Staff Attorney Amy Radon, co-lead counsel for Barber. “This is a great day for anyone who cares about keeping our court system transparent so that corporate wrongdoers can’t hide behind courthouse doors.”

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The newly unsealed documents include a number of pleadings and orders involving an attempt by Remington to seek sanctions and findings of contempt against the plaintiffs’ legal counsel for allegedly sharing incriminating documents with other victims of Remington rifles that discharged without a trigger pull.

Barber believes that the documents will enable the public to learn the full story of what happened in the Aleksich case.

“When the largest rifle manufacturer in the U.S. is trying to hide something from the public, it’s usually something the public needs to know,” Barber said. “I truly believe that by unsealing the evidence about Remington’s Model 700 rifles — case by case — we can help prevent what happened to my son from happening to another family.”

Barber, who championed a Montana anti-secrecy law that bears his late son’s name, is planning to visit the courthouse to inspect the newly-unsealed documents this week.

In addition to Radon, Public Justice’s legal team consists of Staff Attorney Leslie Bailey, Bill Rossbach of Rossbach Hart, PC, in Missoula, Mont., and Richard Ramler of the Ramler Law Office, PC, in Belgrade, Mont.

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