A leading manufacturer of high-tech gun sights has agreed to pay more than $50 million to settle a class-action lawsuit overseen by two Missouri firms in a consolidation of several related complaints under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act as well as state consumer protection statutes.
The complaints alleged that defense contractor L-3 Communications, parent company of EOTech Inc., sold defective holographic weapon sights, a type of combat optical sight that was initially marketed to the military and law enforcement agencies and then promoted to recreational shooters and hunters.
The optical devices used to align and aim weapons were marked with assurances of their "extreme durability in even the harshest conditions" as well as being suitable for use in extreme temperatures and free of parallax, a form of visual distortion, according to a federal lawsuit filed in 2015 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Instead, the holographic weapon sights contained several defects, said plaintiff's attorney Nathan A. Duncan of Douglas, Haun & Heidemann, in Bolivar, including thermal drift and moisture incursion. Thermal drift refers to the sight's point of aim differing from its point of impact when subjected to extreme heat or cold.
That suit was consolidated with a similar suit filed later that month by attorney Tim Dollar of Dollar, Burns & Becker in Kansas City as well as a third action against L-3 Communications in Michigan.
The consolidated action sought reimbursement of amounts paid by thousands of L-3 Communications customers who purchased EOTech holographic weapon sights since 2014.
After a court-ordered mediation, the class settlement received preliminary approval in February, with U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes issuing a final order approving the settlement on July 7. The agreement allows for class members to return their gun sights to L-3 for a full refund plus an additional voucher, or instead keep the sight and receive a cash payment.
The defendant "denied the existence of these alleged defects and denied liability," Duncan said. Defense attorneys representing the manufacturer did not respond to a request for comment.
The $61 million settlement consists of $51,025,461 for class benefits and $10 million for attorney fees. The class benefits represents the return of more than 78,000 gun sights.