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ARTICLE ID 161621

- PRODUCT LIABILITY - ALLEGEDLY DEFECTIVE TEN-INCH PORTABLE BENCH SAW - CLAIMED DEFECTIVE GUARD AND SPLITTER ASSEMBLY - KICK-BACK OF WORK PIECE - AMPUTATION OF LEFT MIDDLE FINGER AT FIRST JOINT TO PLAINTIFF PHYSICIAN.

U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida

The lawsuit was a product liability case, alleging the defective design and manufacture of a ten inch portable bench saw. The defendants in the case included the manufacturer of the saw, as well as the retailer, Home Depot. The defendant manufacturer indemnified the retailer and assumed the defense of the case. The plaintiff claimed that the saw lacked an appropriate blade guard, causing the plaintiff to sustain a finger amputation. The defendants argued that the plaintiff was not using the guard installed and that the accident occurred due to plaintiff’s own negligence.

The plaintiff was a 67-year-old male medical doctor (internal medicine) at the time of the accident. He testified that he was using the bench saw to replace boards in his barn. The plaintiff claimed that the blade guard for the saw was in place at the time of the accident, but that the guard did not prevent a work piece from kicking back and striking his left middle finger.

The plaintiff sustained a lacerating incision to the left middle finger and palm. The plaintiff was transported to the hospital by his wife and the finger was surgically amputated at the first joint (nearest the palm).

The plaintiff’s expert testified that the guard and splitter assembly on the saw in question was defectively designed in that it was not effective in preventing the kick-back which caused the plaintiff’s injury. The plaintiff offered alternative designs, which the plaintiff alleged were safer and would have prevented the plaintiff’s injury.

The plaintiff, who is right-hand dominant, alleged that his loss of manual dexterity prevented him from performing many tasks that he previously performed in connection with his medical practice. The plaintiff alleged a loss of earning capacity as a result of the accident.

The defendant argued that the saw was designed with a guard that was not being used by the plaintiff and that the guard would have prevented the plaintiff’s injury. The defendant contended that the amputation occurred when the plaintiff’s finger came in contact with the unguarded saw blade after he removed the guard.

The defendant’s biomechanical expert opined that the plaintiff’s finger laceration was caused by contact with the saw blade itself, not by contact with the work piece as alleged by the plaintiff. The defendant also contended that the plaintiff returned to his medical practice and did not sustain a loss of future earnings as a result of the accident.

The jury found that the saw was not defective and a defense verdict was entered. The defendants’ motions for fees and costs are pending.

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