I have, and have had several of these. One, (a model 19) was my main match gun for several years, right up until the day that SASS decided that the '97 was the only pump gun they'd allow. I have a model 49 and a model 42 that were made in 1929 and 1934 respectively. This was LONG after smokeless shotgun shells became the order of the day. Both were/are chambered for 2 3/4" shells. Both are original. The '49's barrel was shortened because someone damaged it before I decided to rescue it. I sold a pristine model 24 several years ago to a gentleman who still hunts with it every fall.
The original 1898 had a design flaw in the bolt locking mechanism that could, and in several cases did fail, causing injuries and some reports of fatalities. This flaw was corrected in the models that followed, starting with, (I think) the model 17. From what I have read, these later editions had no reported injures attributed to them, when handled and fired properly, but the reputation of the '98 stuck.
I'll ad here that the Winchester '93 was only reported to fail when used with smokeless ammunition or when one or another of the safety features failed to work, usually from neglect or excessive wear, and that the '97 has and WILL do the same! (I have a '97 that had the bolt blown out the back of the receiver as the result of and OUT OF BATTERY discharge. Fredrick Jackson Turner had the same thing happen to him! AND THERE ARE OTHERS!!)
In the "Marlin Letter" they claim that the materials are suspect. They make no statement of any design flaw.
Given the current climate of litigative probabilities, I won't recommend that ANYONE to buy or shoot any of the Marlin exposed hammer shotguns! I WILL say that if the ban was lifted in SASS, I'd have that old model 19 in my gun cart the next time I went to a match!!