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Embrace The Truth - Catastrophic Gun Failure

Brian WardBrian Ward MemberPosts: 60 Member
Thompson / Center Arms Found at Fault in Catastrophic Gun Failure


On September 1, 2005, I was severely injured by a catastrophic gun failure. My face was permanently disfigured and sight in my right eye was lost forever. I was shooting with the Thompson/Center Encore Rifle. It blew apart because of a defect in its design. That horrendous day propelled me down a path I never planned on or wanted in my life. I’m not speaking out for personal gain or to be vindictive toward Smith & Wesson or Thompson/Center Arms (Thompson/Center Arms has apparently been sold to Smith & Wesson). I merely want the truth about this rifle to be known. I don’t want anyone to go through the pain and suffering I’ve endured. In my opinion, this rifle defect is something that was known about and has been covered up for years.

After almost 10 years of battling over the Encore, I received the final judgment order from the 46th Circuit Court for the County of Otsego, Michigan. I sued Thompson Center Arms (TCA), and the jury found TCA at fault. The jury found TCA to have a defect in its design and found their manual to be defective.

Throughout this entire process, from the day that my rifle had failed, until being given the green light to speak freely about this rifle, I have felt as though I’m involved in a David and Goliath scenario. In the end, no matter how much money they threw at this problem, with their team of lawyers and paid experts, the truth could not be veiled from the jury. At many points over the nearly 10 years since my injury, I have experienced hopelessness about the outcome of the case. One of these moments occurred during the trial. My attorney had in his possession letters, obtained from Thompson/Center through discovery, from other individuals who had incurred similar injuries from the same type of failure. Although the letters were discussed in open court, they were not allowed to be shown to the jury as evidence, based on a technicality concerning Thompson / Center’s claims as to when they had actually received the letters in relation to the date of my injury. A representative of the company did admit that he saw failures of this kind during testing. He also admitted that TCA destroys customer complaints every six months.

Because of the pending suit, I have not been able to share these details until recently. I cannot adequately express what a tremendous relief it is to be able to finally share the truth about the dangers of this rifle.

Most gun owners I know - including myself - thought suing a gun company was practically blasphemy. My suit was never about anything more than seeking truth. I believe wholeheartedly in the Constitution and stand for our Second Amendment rights. I love freedom. I was an NRA member when my injury occurred and I’m an NRA member now.

This is the first lawsuit brought against TCA regarding this rifle that has been successfully litigated. In my opinion, TCA is fighting me so hard because the Encore Rifle has been wildly popular. A recall would cost potentially a lot of money. Still, I am now finally allowed to spread the truth about this gun. Please notify anyone you know who owns this rifle that it could catastrophically fail!

The judgment is attached. I have blacked out the award amounts because the money is not important in this regard. No amount of money can compensate me for the loss of my sight and the years spent in recovery. Additionally, I truly believe this company will continue to fight this judgment, and as a result I will never see any monetary compensation. The court documents are now a matter of public record, and if you wish to seek out more details they can be obtained.

Thank you for your time, and if you would like any additional information please let me know.

Sincerely,

Brian Ward
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Replies

  • Brian WardBrian Ward Member Posts: 60 Member
    My PDF I’m trying to attach is to large for this site. Any suggestions how I can attach it?
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 11,147 Senior Member
    Brian, I am sorry that happened to you, and I am interested in reading the judgement.

    However, it is considered rude to cross post to so many forums like this. I have seen your exact post in at least 3 other gun forums in the past few days. If you are interested in discussing what happened, and what the actual flaw was, feel free. If this is just a drive by post with no wish for discussion, the thread will be locked.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    To be honest, I was expecting to see a pile of shrapnel. So I assume that the problem was with the stock failing? What caliber was it in?
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • Brian WardBrian Ward Member Posts: 60 Member
    bullsi1911 wrote: »
    Brian, I am sorry that happened to you, and I am interested in reading the judgement.

    However, it is considered rude to cross post to so many forums like this. I have seen your exact post in at least 3 other gun forums in the past few days. If you are interested in discussing what happened, and what the actual flaw was, feel free. If this is just a drive by post with no wish for discussion, the thread will be locked.


    I’m here to discuss this, just like everywhere else.

    I’m just trying to let people know because I think it is important.
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,557 Senior Member
    bullsi1911 wrote: »
    Brian, I am sorry that happened to you, and I am interested in reading the judgement.

    However, it is considered rude to cross post to so many forums like this. I have seen your exact post in at least 3 other gun forums in the past few days. If you are interested in discussing what happened, and what the actual flaw was, feel free. If this is just a drive by post with no wish for discussion, the thread will be locked.

    I echo this sentiment.

    Explain it more, don't make us drudge through legal documents. Tell us why it failed in your opinion as well as the opinion of the solicited professionals that testified.

    Gun failures happen for many reasons. Explain yours without the unnecessary back story. We all know civil litigation takes years. Honestly, I was impressed a resolution was found in 10 years.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • Brian WardBrian Ward Member Posts: 60 Member
    Fisheadgib wrote: »
    To be honest, I was expecting to see a pile of shrapnel. So I assume that the problem was with the stock failing? What caliber was it in?

    It was a T/C Encore 300 Win Mag.

    This has been posted elsewhere….
    To summarize and very very briefly in my opinion the big take away from my case was the TCA Encore can not keep tolerances and head space grows overtime, especially with larger calibers like I was shooting (300 win mag). The excessive headspace allows gasses to act on the plunger thus allowing the gun to open. (We are not talking about a bolt gun here….the plunger is held in place with a spring That supposedly needs to be replaced after so many shots that they never tell you about.)
    In my trial we had 3 guns with excessive head space.
    My gun was out of spec.
    A gun with 5 shots was out of spec.
    A gun with no shots was out of spec.
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,557 Senior Member
    Brian Ward wrote: »
    It was a T/C Encore 300 Win Mag.

    This has been posted elsewhere….
    To summarize and very very briefly in my opinion the big take away from my case was the TCA Encore can not keep tolerances and head space grows overtime, especially with larger calibers like I was shooting (300 win mag). The excessive headspace allows gasses to act on the plunger thus allowing the gun to open. (We are not talking about a bolt gun here….the plunger is held in place with a spring That supposedly needs to be replaced after so many shots that they never tell you about.)
    In my trial we had 3 guns with excessive head space.
    My gun was out of spec.
    A gun with 5 shots was out of spec.
    A gun with no shots was out of spec.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    It's my understanding that newer Contenders are less desirable quality-wise that older ones. As to the caliber, I've never trusted those T/C rifles to anything above .243Win. Bigger calibers, in my opinion, need intrinsically stronger breech locking designs.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,557 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Ok, so what exactly happened?

    It unheadspaced itself.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    Fisheadgib wrote: »
    To be honest, I was expecting to see a pile of shrapnel. So I assume that the problem was with the stock failing? What caliber was it in?








    I think the stock being broken could be the result of action or barrel failure and gas being directed into the stock. Nearly every failure I've seen pictures of shows the stock in shambles. If I'm not wrong, I'd bet if you blow the pic up you'd see metal failure that lead to the stock being blown off. Just my guess.

    Brian, is it possible for you to briefly describe what happened?
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    According to another forum TC was held 60% responsible and the gun owner 40%. He was using handloads is the reason they reduced TCs liability right or wrong, I dunno. I don't know if the owners manual said only use factory ammo or not or they just used that point as a reason to try and put the blame on his reloads other than their product.

    I also don't know if his reloads were examined and determined to be within specs or not.

    http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=563014
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    In case some here may be confused, excessive head space causes the case to stretch and can cause it to stretch to a point that the brass becomes brittle and breaks. If the case head separates it will release all that pressure into the action and out any opening thereof and many times into the shooter's face. It will also channel down into the stock and can shatter it as well. Excessive head space IS a very big deal. Loss of accuracy is a minor result of excessive head space. If a case separates up even a quarter inch above the head, there's probably enough brass to seal the chamber. It doesn't take much. But if it separates close to the head, that gas pressure is more than likely coming at you. This is why I love designs such as Mauser that have provisions to direct the gas pressure out and away from your face and body. The Mauser 98 has holes in the bolt that direct the pressure into the magazine. So does Weatherby. And this includes the Vangard. I'm not sure how many other rifles have this feature but I believe it is farely common, but not so much on the scale of Mauser and Weatherby. They have several BIG holes pointed downward.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,798 Senior Member
    What was the argument used by TC to attempt to prove they were not at fault? What evidence was used to overcome that argument?

    We don't want to re-try the case, but this is important in deciding whether or not to risk ownership of a TC. You have our attention - now we need a Q&A session.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    One link was to a post about TCs in general (not this case) unlocking when being fired.................this topic is all over the gun sites/forums on the Internet. Lots of unanswered questions about this judgement.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Contender Barrels That Unlock When Fired And Fly Open. Not about this incident, but interesting.

    http://www.lasc.us/BellmFiresFliesOpen.htm
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 11,147 Senior Member
    Brian Ward wrote: »
    I’m here to discuss this, just like everywhere else.

    I’m just trying to let people know because I think it is important.

    Great. We have to balance the possibility of someone wwith an axe to grind, and the dissemination of needed information. I am glad you posted, because I never heard of this issue or the trial.

    If you want to post the whole thing, I would suggest going to blogspot, creating an account where you can post all the text and link it here. However, be warned that if you start doing paid ads on the blog, the links will be deleted
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,493 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    Contender Barrels That Unlock When Fired And Fly Open. Not about this incident, but interesting.

    http://www.lasc.us/BellmFiresFliesOpen.htm
    Only thing is, this is an Encore, which is supposed to be a stronger action in terms of strength and locking ability. Also, in the photo attached by the OP the barrel doesn't seem to be unlocked.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Here is his one of his replies to the 60/40 judgement decision by the jury. http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=780669&page=3


    "The 40% fault issue: Like I said before “When an entity essentially has unlimited money to bring doubt, defame, etc.. it’s an uphill battle.”
    To be completely frank I don’t know. I don’t think they even needed to give a reason. I posted the verdict that’s all the paper we received. My lawyer did interviews after and if memory serves(the trial was two years ago) it was the lack of safety glasses and handloads.
    But as I stated in the original post in my opinion the T/C Arms lawyers made so they could only see half the truth."
    Brian Ward is offline
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,493 Senior Member
    The 60/40 is probably because he was using handloads, per the thread you cited. He also says he thinks he was using 83 gr. of H1000 under a 180 gr. Nosler Accubond. Per both Nosler and Hodgdon's current load data, this is 2 gr. over their maximum loads. On other forums some who have loaded with H1000 say this (81 gr.) is a very hot load to be approached with caution.

    On page 5 of the owner's manual it says, "Never use non-standard, reloaded, or "handloaded" ammunition which has not been subjected to internal ballistic pressure testing." Then on page 10 it reiterates that in big red letters.

    https://www.tcarms.com/pdfs/uploads/manuals/Encore_RifleShotgun_Manual_03-30-15.pdf
    Overkill is underrated.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    I'm still curious what the exact problem was with his TC? Whether his reloads or lack of safety glass has anything to do with the gun malfunction and his injury may just be a tactic pointed out by the TC lawyers trying to get the suit amount reduced or dropped outta GP.

    Was it a head-space issue or unlocking problem?
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    The 60/40 is probably because he was using handloads, per the thread you cited.

    Reloads and no safety glasses. That other forum has members arguing with each other now...................but still like us they wanna know what exactly happened.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    I've been searching all over the internet trying to find more info about all of this and all I can find is all of the forums that Mr Ward posted similar threads on where people are also asking for more details while Mr Ward just gives small fragments of information. I would imagine that there are lots of photos in evidence that Mr Ward could share along with more detailed information about what happened. The "I don't know, I woke up bleeding and my buddy found the gun laying next to me and the case was missing" isn't quite enough to base any thoughts or opinions on except about Mr Ward. Not to sound morbid but what about a picture of the permanent disfigurment? The guy who claimed that the pickle slice fell out of his quarter pounder and burned his chin claimed permanent disfigurment and sued for a sizable amount. I would think that if this case was so cut and dried, there would be plenty of information to share.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    An analogy would be a car owner was injured by an Imported car acceleration linkage failure, but the company lawyers argue the driver was not wearing a seat-belt and that is why he got injured, even though the accident would have happened anyway ........................or added a Super-charger and more HP to his car by aftermarket additions making it unsafe (reloads?) changing factory specs...........
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,493 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    Reloads and no safety glasses. That other forum has members arguing with each other now...................but still like us they wanna know what exactly happened.
    Well, how many wear safety glasses while hunting? Really? And lots of folks use reloads, so that's not unusual per se.

    I'm wondering if the rifle did unlock like he says, why wasn't the case blown out of the rifle? Why does the action appear closed in the photo? I'm sorry the OP lost sight in one eye and was injured, but as others have asked, what exactly caused the injuries? Was it gas? Brass shrapnel? The scope hitting him?
    Overkill is underrated.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Well, how many wear safety glasses while hunting? Really? And lots of folks use reloads, so that's not unusual per se.

    No, but Technically if the owners manual says do not use reloads and they are not responsible for any injuries/gun breakage from them and always wear saftey glasses to prevent possible injury as in this case it could and was used as a reason to reduce the judgement by 40% saying the owner has some responsibility for what happened to him even though they found TC liable for 60%.

    Real world it doesn't work that way, as we know.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Wasn't there a beef on here about TC previously? I think it was Customer Service being not so good??
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    I'm wondering if the rifle did unlock like he says, why wasn't the case blown out of the rifle? Why does the action appear closed in the photo? I'm sorry the OP lost sight in one eye and was injured, but as others have asked, what exactly caused the injuries? Was it gas? Brass shrapnel? The scope hitting him?


    On one of the forums he claimed (as I quoted) that he was on the ground bleeding and his buddy found the gun laying next to him and they never could find the case. Why he posted a picture of the rifle with the action closed and only a broken stock as evidence kinda puts his credibility in question with me.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,493 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    I don't wear safety glasses while hunting, but I should. Anytime you fire a gun you should.
    Ever try to find good safety glasses that'll work with prescription glasses? The only ones I've found fit poorly over the glasses, are uncomfortable, and have some degree of optical distortion. I could order some I suppose, but I don't like to buy eyewear sight unseen.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    I don't wear safety glasses while hunting, but I should. Anytime you fire a gun you should.

    My Bifocal Birth Control Mr Magoo's satisfy the eye protection requirement , very durable and fugly. :rotflmao: :rotflmao: :spittingcoffee:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,128 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    I'm not buying safety rated eyeglasses.
    Last time I bought those, they only cost me $50 or so. Not bad if you want to use them.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
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