Man Hurt by Defective Gun Receives $100,000 Settlement : Compensation: Winchester shotgun blew apart in hand of Irvine cabinetmaker. Model has been recalled.


A cabinetmaker received a $100,000 settlement this week for injuries he suffered when a Winchester shotgun blew apart in his hand, an accident that led to a national recall of the gun model, lawyers for the victim and the gun manufacturer said Thursday.

About 2,500 guns are affected by the recall, and the majority of the owners have been notified that they should not shoot them and should exchange them, an attorney for the manufacturer said.

The recall was prompted by the malfunction that Brian Lohrke, 37, of Irvine and a few other gun owners experienced.

Lohrke, a lifelong sport shooter, was among the first to buy the Winchester 1001 Sporting Clay II when it came on the market last October, said his lawyer, Frank Nunes.

Lohrke had fired 6,000 to 7,000 rounds with his new shotgun before there was any trouble, Nunes said. But on Feb. 10, he was skeet shooting at the Orange County Shooting and Training Center in Irvine when the gun burst apart, ripping open his left hand and severing a major tendon.

"Both barrels flew off the gun and landed 30 yards away," Nunes said. A forensic engineer who studied the shattered gun concluded that the receiver barrel, where the gun is loaded, had a design flaw and that an inferior quality of steel had been used to build the firearm.

Nunes said that Lohrke did not file a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer but entered into negotiations that culminated Monday in the signing of a $100,000 out-of-court settlement to cover his medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering. Nunes said that his client had surgery on his injured hand, which is now "95% back to normal," and that he has returned to his fine carpentry work.

Don Motsko, lawyer for U.S. Repeating Arms Co., the Connecticut-based firm that makes Winchester guns, said the company sent letters to its customers, distributors and dealers last month recalling all of its Winchester 1001 product line, including models that are used for shooting game as well as clay pigeons. They were moderately priced guns that retailed for $1,000 to $1,200, Motsko said.

The company had received two or three other reports of the shotguns malfunctioning, Motsko said, although he added that there were no other reports of injuries. He said that the vast majority of the approximately 1,500 people who bought the shotguns have been notified not to shoot them and that the recalled guns may be exchanged for other models. He estimated that another 1,000 guns have been pulled off store shelves.

Meanwhile, he said, the Winchester 1001 has gone back to the drawing board.

Motsko said the recall of the Winchester 1001 is only the second recall of a new Winchester gun that he can remember at U.S. Repeating Arms over the past 30 years. He said a new caliber version of a hunting rifle was recalled earlier this year for adjustments, also in response to consumer complaints. But in that case, he said, no one was injured.

Times staff writer Len Hall contributed to this report.

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