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ARTICLE ID 20074

$________ Negligent use of log splitting machine - Crush injuries to non-dominant hand - Loss of pinkie - Significant restriction to ring finger.

Atlantic County

The male plaintiff in his early 40s, who was holding a log on a log splitter obtained by the defendant tenant from her landlord, contended that the defendant tenant negligently activated the ram while his hand was in the point of operation. The plaintiff contended that as a result, he suffered severe crush injuries which resulted in the loss of the pinkie and a small portion of the metacarpal and tendon damage to the ring finger.

The defendant tenant contended that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent in leaving his hand in the point of operation. The plaintiff maintained that there were no guards or other protections and that he would be required to rely on the operator for safety.

The plaintiff also named the landlord who had manufactured the home made machine, contending that the product was defective. The defendant landlord had made the machine many years earlier for his own use and the Court, holding that it was not placed into the stream of commerce, dismissed the products liability count.

The Court further held that since the landlord had loaned the machine to the tenant, a gratuitous bailment had occurred. The Court ruled that the only duty owed was to warn of hidden hazards, holding that any danger was open and obvious, dismissing this aspect as well.

The plaintiff contended that he suffered a crush injury to the non-dominant hand and that the pinkie was surgically amputated at the base, with a portion of the metacarpal removed as well. The plaintiff’s physician related that the protrusion from the metacarpal would further reduce functionality and that the small portion of the metacarpal was removed for this reason and for cosmetic purposes. The plaintiff also contended that the tendon injury will cause significant restriction to the ring finger.

The plaintiff, who is a butcher, was able to return to work, but contended that he works with significant difficulties. The plaintiff also contended that he has been restricted in providing care to his young daughter who had some undisclosed medical handicap.

The jury found the tenant operating the log splitter ________% negligent and awarded $________. The tenant wife was actually operating the device as the plaintiff was holding it. The plaintiff also named the husband who had borrowed the machine from the landlord, contending that he should have provided warnings as to the danger. The defendant contended that the danger was open and obvious and that warnings were not necessary.

The jury exonerated the husband.

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