Geomatrix recently worked with Westport attorney Jeffrey S. Bagnell to out-gun SIG Sauer, Inc, one of the world’s largest gunmakers, in a product liability lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Virginia.
Bagnell originally filed the $10 million suit in federal court in April 2018 against the gunmaker after Loudoun County Virginia Sheriff’s Department
officer Marcie Vadnais said her department-issued SIG Sauer P320 handgun fired while she was removing her fully holstered weapon from her duty belt.
Vadnais, who had served seven years with the department, never drew or touched the weapon, and suffered a completely severed femur, embedded shrapnel, and serious blood loss as a result of the bullet’s impact.
“The x-rays of her leg showed a femur shattered so completely that surgeons had to insert a titanium rod through the broken halves of her femur, and secure it with screws to her pelvis and knee,” said Bagnell, “otherwise she would not have been able to stand. The pain she had to endure from the bullet, and before and after her surgeries, was unspeakable.” Bagnell had previously sued SIG Sauer in Connecticut over a similar incident in 2017 involving a Stamford SWAT team member, who was shot in the knee by the same gun without a trigger pull.
SIG tried to paint a picture of his client’s actions as an “accident,” and downplayed the damage caused by the bullet. During opening statements, SIG’s counsel announced that she was fully ‘healed’ – – while minutes later she limped to the stand and was assisted by the U.S. Marshal to raise her leg so she could testify with less pain. The optics of that moment were terrible for SIG, according to Bagnell.
“After defeating SIG’s summary judgment and Daubert motions,
I brought in Geomatrix to produce a video to show SIG Sauer the devastating effect that a shattered femur from the bullet had on my client Marcie.
The video showed her not only as an experienced officer, but as a wife and mother of young children. It was important for me to humanize her, but also convey that I was willing to spend whatever was necessary to help her.”
Working with Geomatrix, Bagnell was also prepared with a 3D animation for trial.
“I made it clear to the jury that SIG was asking them to believe that my client, who had qualified on the weapon three times, randomly decided one morning to just draw her weapon and shoot herself in the thigh, for no reason. My experts had presented reports showing that gun not only fired in its holster (which made a trigger pull impossible), but contained a manufacturing defect after being CAT scanned.”
SIG Sauer lawyers presented a 3D animation during opening statements which demonstrated their version of the incident. They maintained the untenable position that Marcie drew her weapon, found the trigger, and pulled it hard enough to shoot herself, all in one quick motion.
“I showed the jury another 3D animation, produced by Geomatrix, that showed what actually happened that morning,”
said Bagnell. “It showed that the weapon discharged while Marcie was jostling it to remove it from her belt, consistent with our expert opinions. We were able to get that admitted as demonstrative evidence and I used it in direct examination of the plaintiff.”
The matter settled for an undisclosed amount on day two of the trial.
“Although no amount of money can fix what happened to Marcie, the settlement brought a sense of relief and closure for her,” says Bagnell. “I can’t thank Geomatrix enough for their timely and skilled assistance with the electronic evidence we presented.”