(CN) – A class action claims one of the world’s largest manufacturers of protective gear for law enforcement and military personnel put officers lives at risk by selling their departments defective bullet resistant vests.
In a federal complaint filed Oct. 19 in Miami, the International Union of Police Associations, the Ohio State Troopers Association and three individual officers claim defendant Point Black Enterprises failed to notify users when it learned that some of its vests suffered from a manufacturing defect and refused to recall them.
The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Moskowitz from Moskowitz, Mandell, Salim and Simowitz PA in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
They say that Point Blank manufactures its military protective products through “wholly-owned subsidiaries and/or brand names, such as Point Blank Body Armor Inc., Paraclete, Protective Products Enterprises, Protective Apparel Corporation of America and others.
“…These vests contain a manufacturing defect which has created an imminent and substantial danger and risk of injury and death to the individual plaintiffs and others who use and depend upon the vests, many of whom are law enforcement officers whose job is to protect the public,” the complaint says.
Point Blank markets and advertises the vests as having an exclusive “self-suspending ballistic system” feature, and as having certain qualities and characteristics that they do not have. the plaintiffs claim.
The Ohio State Troopers Association and the International Union of Police Associations say they purchased the defective body armor for its law enforcement personnel, and that they had to replace the vests because Point Blank refused to do so.
Officers Koontz, Purpura and Rohner say that their vests fell apart while they were using it on active duty posing a life-threatening safety issue for them.
The officers go on to claim that Point Blank refused to provide them with new, properly functioning vest, despite the fact the defective vests were still under warranty.
They say Point Blank did send them new should straps and carriers for their vests, but that these measures did not correct the defects.
As a result, they were forced to use duct and electrical tape and even safety pins while on duty to prevent the vests from falling apart, the complaint says.
Bullet proof vests contain two main components: “the ballistic panel system and the carrier or outershell/garment in which the ballistic panel system is placed.”
The complaint claims that the “self-suspending ballistic system” vests suddenly fall apart when the officers are in the field because movement causes the ballistic panels to separate from the shoulder straps.
“Traditionally, body armor manufacturers do not tamper with the integrity of the ballistic panels by incorporating attachments or a suspension system directly into the ballistic panel system. Rather, any straps or suspension system is incorporated into the carrier, including any Velcro or other similar material,” the complaint says.
According to the complaint, Point Blank provides a five-year written warranty that covers the ballistic panel system and a two-year written warranty for the carriers for its vests, but it failed to honor them.
Plaintiffs claim Point Blank is manufacturing the vests using low-cost and low-quality components and are selling them as new, when in fact their ballistic panels have manufacture and issue dates of up to four and a half years old.
They seek compensatory damages and injunctive relief on claims of breach of warranty and unfair business practices.
A representative of Point Blank did not immediately respond to a phoned request for comment on the litigation.