United States District Court, S.D. Florida
WILLIAM BURROW, OMA LOUISE BURROW, ERNEST D. BEDWELL, AND SUZANNE BEDWELL, Plaintiffs,
FORJAS TAURUS S.A. and BRAZTECH INTERNATIONAL, L.C., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL TO CLASS ACTION
SETTLEMENT AND RULE 54(b) FINAL JUDGMENT ON CLASS
G. TORRES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Proposed Class
Representatives' Unopposed Motion for Final Approval of
Class Action Settlement (D.E. 135; “the Motion”)
filed on August 19, 2019, and Plaintiffs' Unopposed
Motion for Approval of Attorneys' Fees and Incentive
Award (D.E. 132; “the Fee Motion”), filed on June
10, 2019. Plaintiffs assert they have complied with the
requirements of the Court's Preliminary Approval Order
(D.E. 130) and now request that the Court finally approve the
terms of the settlement as set forth in the Class Action
Settlement Agreement and Release (D.E. 127-2), including the
incentive award and attorneys' fees provisions.
Court held a fairness hearing on August 27, 2019, to consider
any arguments in support of or in opposition to the Motion or
the Fee Motion. Only counsel for the parties appeared at the
hearing; no class member or objector appeared to present any
opposition to the motions.
reasons that follow, as well as the Court's review of the
entire record that includes one filed objection to the
proposed class settlement, the Court finds that the Motion
and Fee Motion are now GRANTED, and the
proposed settlement is APPROVED as a Final
Order of the Court. A Rule 54(b) Judgment is hereby entered
on all class claims, with the Court retaining jurisdiction in
this pending action over any individual non-class claims.
5, 2016, William Burrow and Oma Louise Burrow, filed a
proposed class action complaint styled Burrow, et al., v.
Forjas Taurus, S.A., et al., No. 1:16-cv-21606-EGT, in
the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Florida, alleging that their Rossi brand .38 Special Revolver
was defective in that it fired when dropped, and asserting
certain causes of action in relation thereto.
September 16, 2016, Suzanne Bedwell filed a proposed class
action complaint in the United States District Court for the
District of Alaska, No. 3:16-cv-00217-JWS, asserting that her
Rossi brand .357 Magnum Revolver was defective in that it
fired when dropped, and asserting certain causes of action in
relation thereto. In an amended complaint filed with leave of
court on June 12, 2017, Ernest Bedwell joined in case,
asserting claims on behalf of himself and a proposed class.
Thereafter, the Bedwell case was transferred to the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
order dated February 9, 2018, the Court ordered the Burrow
and Bedwell cases consolidated and merged into the Burrow
action, provided, however, that the personal-injury claims of
the Bedwells on behalf of themselves and their minor son
should be stayed pending final disposition of the merged
proposed class action in the Burrow case. (D.E. 51).
March 2, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended and
Consolidated Class Action Complaint (D.E. 54). Plaintiffs
asserted class claims for breach of warranty, strict products
liability, negligence, and FDUTPA, seeking damages,
injunctive and other relief against the Defendants in
connection with alleged defects in the design and manufacture
of the Class Revolvers. Plaintiffs sought damages and
equitable relief only premised on alleged economic losses,
and did not seek to recover for any member of the proposed
class any relief for personal-injury or property-damage
Taurus and Braztech filed separate Answers and Affirmative
Defenses to the First Amended Class Action Complaint on April
13, 2018 (Docs. 68 and 69), denying certain factual
allegations, denying liability, and denying that the claims
made are amenable to class treatment.
Plaintiffs and Defendants engaged in voluminous and extensive
written discovery and depositions regarding the claims and
defenses at issue in the Action. Plaintiffs and litigated
various discovery issues and sought the assistance of the
Court in advancing discovery on multiple occasions. Class
Counsel deposed numerous witnesses, including representatives
of Forjas Taurus and Braztech, many of which had to be
conducted through interpreters as a result of the Forjas
Taurus's Brazilian origin. Class Counsel retained an
expert engineer to inspect and test the subject revolvers and
other class revolvers produced and sold by Forjas Taurus and
Braztech during the class period. Detailed x-rays and
inspections of the four Bedwell revolvers and four Burrow
revolvers were conducted by the Parties and their respective
experts. Depositions of the Bedwell Plaintiffs, witnesses,
law enforcement, and experts were taken in Alaska. Throughout
these events, the parties vigorously litigated this action.
Parties engaged in substantial and prolonged settlement
negotiations with Mediator Terrence White, an experienced
independent mediator. Between September 11, 2018 and November
7, 2018, the Parties engaged in five separate full-day
mediation sessions. At least twice, the settlement process
broke down entirely and litigation resumed. Finally, on
November 7, 2018, the Parties agreed to the settlement terms
that are reflected in the proposed Settlement Agreement. For
several weeks thereafter, counsel for Plaintiffs and Taurus
negotiated the terms of a Term Sheet memorializing the
agreement reached on November 7, 2018, and in the ensuing
months negotiated the terms of the formal Settlement
Agreement being presented to the Court.
March 15, 2019, the Court entered the Preliminary Approval
Order preliminarily approving the parties' proposed class
settlement, approving the notice plan, and setting a final
fairness hearing. (D.E. 130). The Settlement Class is
comprised of all individuals in the United States, including
territories and possessions, who owned one or more Class
Revolver(s) on the March 15, 2019 (the Preliminary Approval
Date). (Id. at p. 4-5).
distributing notice of the Settlement to the Settlement Class
Members in accordance with the approved Class Notice Plan,
the Plaintiffs filed the pending Motion that seeks final
approval of the Settlement. (D.E. 135). In support of the
Motion, Plaintiffs attached the declaration of the Settlement
Administrator, Cameron R. Azari (D.E. 135-3) (“Azari
Decl.”) and the declaration of Kimberly Dorsey from
Braztech, the party responsible for conducting the Early
Warning Program and providing the Enhanced Warranty Service
under the Settlement. (“Dorsey Decl.”).
THE APPROVED SETTLEMENT
Settlement provides for the following class and relief:
The Settlement Class
Settlement Class is defined as:
All individuals in the United States, including its
territories and possessions, who owned one or more Class
Revolver(s) on March 15, 2019, the Preliminary Approval Date.
(D.E. 127-2, ¶ 44 and D.E. 130, p. 4).
term “Class Revolvers” in the above definition
includes all Rossi brand .357 Magnum and .38 Special
revolvers of the following models-R35102, R35202, R85104,
R97206, R97104, R46202, R46102-manufactured by Forjas Taurus
between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2017, as indicated
by the serial number stamped on the frame of the revolver
beginning with the letters Y, Z, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I,
J, or K. There are or were approximately 255, 000 Class
Revolvers manufactured during the Class Period that were sold
in the United States.
from the Settlement Class are (a) all state, local, or
federal bodies or agencies, etc., or Persons in an official
capacity; (b) the District Judge and Magistrate Judge to whom
the Action is assigned and any appellate judge assigned to
any appeal in the Action, together with any member of their
staffs and immediate families; (c) any Successful Opt-Out,
and (d) any other Person who has been recognized by Order of
the Court as excluded from the Settlement Class for any
Class Relief and Release
are four primary components to this Settlement: (1) the
Safety Warning; (2) an Enhanced Warranty automatically
extended to present and future owners of all Class Revolvers;
(3) an Enhanced Warranty Service that provides for the free
shipping, inspection, repair and/or replacement,
certification and cleaning of each Class Revolver; and (4) an
Inconvenience Payment of $50 to compensate Class Members for
having to have their Class Revolver(s) inspected.
court-approved attorneys' fees, litigation costs and
incentive awards of Class Counsel and the Class
Representatives are to be paid separately and in addition to
the relief available to the Settlement Class Members.
Additionally, Defendants have separately funded the costs of
notice and settlement administration. (D.E. 127-2, §
III.C.2.). Any persons who wished to pursue individual claims
for damages were given the opportunity to do so by opting out
of the Settlement Class.
The Safety Warning Program or “Early Warning
Program was negotiated during the Parties' first
mediation session. It was designed and intended to make
current and future owners of Class Revolvers immediately
aware of the potential dangers with Class Revolvers and to
inform them that the Class Revolvers should not be used or
carried until they had been inspected and/or repaired. The
Early Warning Program included prominent print ads in
American Rifleman magazine and several digital ads
on Gunbroker.com (1, 000, 000 impressions), GunsandAmmo.com
(700, 000 impressions), and on NRA.org (2, 500, 000
impressions). (See D.E. 127-3, Azari Dec.).
advised owners of Class Revolvers to immediately stop using
them and to call a provided toll-free telephone number or
visit the www.RossiSafetyNotice.com website for
detailed information. The ads were written in plain language,
free from legalese, and clearly identified that the warning
was from the manufacturer. The ads also referenced the
Burrow, et al. v. Forjas Taurus S.A., et al.
litigation and case name specifically.
Early Warning Program also included a direct “SAFETY
WARNING” notice that was sent to known dealers of the
Rossi revolvers. The dealer notice requested dealers to
prominently display an enclosed, colored SAFETY WARNING
“flyer” in their shop to make it visible and easy
to read by customers. The flyer was an easy-to-read warning
that explained the potential danger posed by the revolvers
and provided instructions to owners. (D.E. 127-3, Attachment
The Enhanced Warranty and Enhanced Warranty Service
“Enhanced Warranty” is extended to current and
future owners of Class Revolvers as part of this Settlement,
and is provided over and above the existing warranty
available to owners of Rossi revolvers. Owners may take
advantage of the Enhanced Warranty by submitting their Class
Revolvers to Braztech one time for Enhanced Warranty Service
at any time in the future. The Enhanced Warranty Service
includes the following components:
(1) Shipping Benefits including the delivery
to the Settlement Class Member's address pre-paid
shipping labels for shipping through Fed Ex or other accepted
shipping company so that Class Revolvers can be safely
shipped to Braztech for inspection at no cost to the
Settlement Class Member.
(2) Inspection Procedure whereby Braztech
(as warranty service provider in the United States for Forjas
Taurus) will take possession of the Class Revolver, and
disassemble the firearm to the extent necessary to determine
whether the Alleged Defects are or may be present and whether
such Class Revolver may be serviced or repaired to address
and eliminate any of the Alleged Defect(s).
(3) Repair Procedure whereby Braztech will
replace any internal components of the Class Revolver deemed
necessary to eliminate any of the Alleged Defects found
during the Inspection Procedure.
(4) Replacement Procedure whereby if
Braztech determines that a particular Class Revolver, for any
reason, cannot be serviced or repaired in such a way as to
render it safe for its intended use, Braztech will deliver to
the Settlement Class Member a new Taurus-brand revolver of
similar caliber, and size, free of charge.
(5) Certification Procedure whereby Braztech
will, for each Class Revolver that has been through the
Inspection and Repair Procedures and been deemed safe for its
intended use, stamp each Class Revolver on the frame of the
revolver, a “R” to indicate that the firearm has
been through the Enhanced Warranty Service process and is
deemed safe for its intended use.
(6) Cleaning Service whereby Braztech will
professionally clean and test fire each Class Revolver before
being returned to the Settlement Class Member.
foregoing Enhanced Warranty Service will be provided by
Braztech at no charge to owners of Class Revolvers. This
Enhanced Warranty Service is available one time per Class
Revolver and may be taken advantage of at any time: there
is no time limit. Braztech has already voluntarily
implemented the Enhanced Warranty Service as Class Revolvers
have been submitted during the Early Warning Program and
Class Notice period. To date, approximately 9, 200 Class