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ARTICLE ID 139109

$________ - PRODUCT LIABILITY - MACHINE GUARDING - ALLEGED DEFECTIVE DESIGN OF GRINDING MACHINE - FAILURE TO WARN - WORKERS UNABLE TO CLEAN MACHINE WITH AIRHOSE UNLESS GUARD IS REMOVED - DOMINANT HAND AND WRIST IS DRAWN INTO IN-RUNNING NIP POINT - AMPUTATION OF THE HAND AND DISTAL 1/4 PORTION OF FOREARM.

U.S. District (Camden)

The male plaintiff machine operator, approximately age 30 at the time of the incident, contended that the grinding machine that was designed and manufactured by the defendant’s predecessor was defective. The plaintiff maintained that it was not possible to adequately clean the machine between runs unless the guard was removed. The plaintiff maintained that as he was cleaning the machine, the nozzle of the air hose became caught in a roller, drawing his dominant right hand, wrist and a portion of his arm into the mechanism. The plaintiff sustained severe crush fractures and required the amputation of the hand and approximately 1/2 of the forearm two days later.

The plaintiff’s proofs reflected that before the workers began removing the guard to clean the machine in-between runs, it began receiving complaints from customers that its goods had been contaminated by prior product. The plaintiff contended that the workers then removed the guard before using the air hose to clean the machine.

The defendant denied that the product was defectively designed or manufactured. The defendant maintained that the machine could be safely cleaned without removing the guard by simply blowing out air ports situated on another portion of the grinding machine. The plaintiff countered that although the machine contained warnings about removal of the guard, there were no instructions either on the machine or the accompanying literature relating to using the air hose on the air ports. The plaintiff contended that it was highly foreseeable that workers would not realize that the machine could be cleaned in this manner and that the failure to provide instructions rendered the machine defective.

The plaintiff suffered severe crush fractures and although the physicians attempted to save the arm and hand, he required the surgical amputation two days later. The plaintiff also required a subsequent debridement. The plaintiff maintained that his talents and inclinations geared him towards physical work, that he was a very hard working individual who had often held two jobs during his adult life, and the plaintiff would have contended that obtaining alternative work would be very difficult.

The plaintiff also would have contended that he continues to suffer severe phantom pain and related emotional issues. He maintained that unless this condition significantly improved, he clearly would be unable to work. The plaintiff’s physiatrist would have related that the phantom pain is not unexpected, largely results from the body’s recollection of the trauma and that it is likely that it will continue for the foreseeable future. The plaintiff also related that an important passion in his life involved the avocation of being a chef. The plaintiff indicated that he greatly loved cooking at home and that he can no longer engage in this activity.

The court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and the case then settled for $________.

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