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ARTICLE ID 31084

- PRODUCTS LIABILITY - ALLEGED DEFECTIVE DESIGN OF ICE HOCKEY FACE MASK RESULTS IN FRACTURE OF FIFTH CERVICAL VERTEBRAE - SPINAL FUSION.

Norfolk County, Mass.

The plaintiff, age 16 at the time of the subject incident, brought suit against the defendant manufacturer and defendant distributor of the ice hockey face mask which the plaintiff was wearing when he was cross-checked by an opposing team player, as a result of which the plaintiff suffered a fracture of his fifth cervical vertebrae necessitating spinal fusion surgery. The plaintiff originally sued the Canadian corporation which manufactured the helmet and following further investigation, amended the complaint to include the face mask manufacturer and the face mask distributor as additional defendants. The Canadian corporation which manufactured the helmet was dismissed some time prior to trial.

The plaintiff’s expert engineer testified that the face mask as designed was defective due to an improper configuration of the wires comprising the mask. The expert maintained that this configuration allowed the opponent’s stick to become snagged in the face mask during the cross-checking maneuver carried out by the opponent. The plaintiff’s expert contended that a different wire configuration would have prevented the stick from snagging and thereby avoid injury. The defendant countered that the injury did not occur as alleged by the plaintiff, but rather resulted from a hard blow to the plaintiff’s helmet above the right eye. In support of this assertion, the defendant pointed to the plaintiff’s expert’s notes, which reflected that he had been advised by the plaintiff’s first attorney that the plaintiff had suffered a blow to the helmet above the right eye.

The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon testified as to the fracture injury sustained by the plaintiff, which he described as a fracture of the fifth cervical vertebrae necessitating spinal fusion surgery. The plaintiff’s physician related that although he has recovered well enough to return to playing ice hockey, the plaintiff suffers from intermittent pain and has sustained a permanent reduction in movement. The plaintiff made no claim for lost earning and at time of trial, was attending dental school.

The plaintiff presented $________ in medical bills. The jury found for the defendant. Plaintiff’s expert engineer: Igor Paul from MIT.

Plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon: Joseph Barr from Mass.

General Hospital in Boston, Mass. Shea vs. Pro Tec. Judge Roger Donahue, 11-14-88. Attorneys for plaintiff: Ed Hinchey and Bill Dailey, Jr.. both of Boston, Mass.; Attorney for defendant manufacturer: Robert Kutner from Boston, Mass.; Attorney for defendant distributor: Ronald Langlois from Quincy, Mass.

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