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ARTICLE ID 39823

- LIABILITY ONLY - PRODUCTS LIABILITY - DESIGN DEFECT - PLAINTIFF CLAIMS INJURED WHEN FLIPPING DIE OVER WITH ASSISTANCE OF A HOIST ATTACHED TO HOIST TROLLEY - PLAINTIFF ALLEGES TROLLEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN EQUIPPED WITH BRAKE ENABLING THE USER TO STOP THE TROLLEY DURING MANEUVER - DIE STRIKES PLAINTIFF SEVERING ARTERY - TRANSFUSION - NERVE DAMAGE.

U.S. Dist., Eastern

The male plaintiff, in his early 30’s, contended that he sustained a severed artery requiring a transfusion and causing nerve damage when a die struck him in the arm while he was sharpening the die for a press machine. The action was maintained against four defendants, the manufacturer of a hoist trolley, the defendant manufacturer of a hoist, the defendant distributor and the defendant seller. The defendant manufacturer of the trolley and the defendant manufacturer of the hoist were granted directed verdicts at the close of plaintiff’s case. The action proceeded against the defendant seller. The plaintiff asserted that he was using a hoist to flip the die over to the blade side. The hoist was attached to a hoist trolley equipped with ball bearing wheels. The trolley was mounted to a steel I-beam allowing the user to move the die from one end of the I-beam to the other end.

The plaintiff contended that he hoisted the die from the top of a cart and flipped the die over to the blade side. The plaintiff argued that as he was flipping over the die, it slid off the cart and struck the plaintiff in the right arm. The plaintiff argued that the trolley should have had a hand brake that would have allowed the plaintiff to stop the trolley. The plaintiff maintained that had the trolley been equipped with a brake, he would have been able to lessen the force of the die when it impacted with his arm. The plaintiff’s expert professional engineer testified that the incident was due to a defect in the hoist assembly (the trolley), specifically, the absence of a brake or lock too hold the trolley in a stationary position. The expert asserted that the motion of the trolley allowed the die to strike the plaintiff with greater force. The plaintiff asserted that the defendant seller, a catalogue service, had an obligation to make recommendations to purchasers and to question the particular use of the trolley. The defendant maintained that the product was safe and that there was no defect. The defendant further maintained that it sells over ________ products and is merely a catalogue service, therefore, unable to make recommendations as to products. The defendant asserted that purchasers are more knowledgeable as to their particular needs.

During cross-examination, the plaintiff expert asserted that their are certain circumstances that brakes would not be desirable on a trolley. He also conceded that the absence of brakes from a trolley does not make the product defective. The defendant further contended that the plaintiff’s expert witness had worked as a consultant with a company that had previously purchased large numbers of freewheeling trolleys. The plant engineer at the plaintiff’s place of employment testified that he knew the trolley did not have brakes and that he did want brakes on the particular trolley. The defendant’s expert mechanical engineer testified that the trolley was safe and of a type commonly found in the subject type of workplace. The jury found for the defendant. Scrappo vs. Dayton. Case no. 89-________; Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter, 4-17-91. Attorney for plaintiff: William Goldstein of Bensalem; Attorneys for defendant: John Penders and Brad Remick of Philadelphia. Plaintiff’s expert professional engineer: Charles James from Newton. Defendant’s expert mechanical engineer: I. Robert Ehrlich from Tea Neck, N.J.

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