Exploding target vendor pays county $150K in wildfire lawsuit

SAN DIEGO — San Diego County will receive $150,000 in penalties and compensation from a firm that sells potentially hazardous exploding targets for shooting enthusiasts, under terms of a legal settlement announced Thursday mandating that the company change the way it does business in California.

The San Diego County and Riverside County District Attorney’s Offices jointly sued Pleasant Hill, Oregon-based Tannerite Sports LLC in July 2016 based on a case involving two San Diego residents.

The lawsuit was settled last week, and the terms were certified by Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Vineyard.

According to prosecutors, the San Diego residents had purchased Tannerite Brand Binary Rifle Targets, which detonate on impact. During a round of shooting, one of the exploding targets triggered a brush fire that consumed over 1,200 acres on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property in San Diego County.

The target shooters, whose identities were not disclosed, were hit with a $4.3 million federal lawsuit for the property damage and suppression costs. According to prosecutors, the pair settled for $50,000.

Public safety officials in Riverside County felt the case underscored a need for restrictions in how Tannerite products are marketed and sold in the county and the rest of the state, according to the D.A.’s office.

The lawsuit was filed in Riverside County Superior Court, and D.A.’s staff collaborated with San Diego County prosecutors in preparing for the civil trial. However, the case was settled just prior to the start of jury selection, according to the agency.

Under the settlement terms, Tannerite will be required to clearly state that its exploding targets require a permit to possess in California because they are considered “explosive and destructive devices,” according to the D.A.’s office. Prosecutors said a number of residents statewide had been criminally charged for owning the products without a permit.

The settlement also stipulated that the two shooters who started the wildfire receive $50,000 reimbursement for the funds they paid to the BLM.

A total of $300,000 in civil penalties and investigative costs were ordered paid to San Diego and Riverside counties, which will split the sum, officials said.