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ARTICLE ID 42891

Plaintiff contends injury occurred because printing press remanufactured by defendant was defective in that it was not brought into compliance with industry standards at the time of the remanufacture - Degloving injury to right hand and broken third metatarpal.

Suffolk County, Massachusetts

In this products liability, case the plaintiff, a press operator for a newspaper, was changing plates on the press. As the plaintiff was doing so, the plaintiff’s co-worker moved the press while the plaintiff’s hand was inside of the press, causing him severe injury. The plaintiff contended that when the defendant reconditioned certain units of the press, it should have brought the press up to current OSHA and ANSI standards, specifically with respect to adding an extra control station closer to where the plaintiff was working at the time of the accident. The plaintiff argued that the defendant’s failure to do so resulted 7 3 in the plaintiff’s injury because if this additional control panel had been added, the plaintiff would have utilized a safe button on the control panel prior to inserting his hand into the press which would have prevented his co-worker from moving the press while his hand was inside. The defendant contended that it had no obligation as a remanufacturer to bring the press unit up to current industry standards when providing the service of remanufacturing/reconditioning (such terms were used interchangeably), and the owner of the press did not enter into an agreement with the defendant to make such upgrades during the reconditioning service. Secondly, the defendant asserted that the press was in compliance with the specific ANSI standard that the plaintiff claimed was violated.

As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained a degloving injury to the right hand and a broken third metatarpal. The plaintiff underwent four surgeries, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Prior to the plaintiff’s third surgery, he re-broke his hand under circumstances disputed by the parties. The plaintiff claimed he fell on ice, while the defendant had witnesses testify that he was involved in an altercation and re- broke his hand by punching a wall. The plaintiff maintained that he could not return to work as a pressman due to his injuries and that he was totally disabled and had ongoing pain and pain management medication issues.

At trial, the plaintiff called a liability expert who testified that the machine remanufactured by the defendant was not up to ANSI standards and should have had an additional control station with a safe button. The plaintiff presented a vocational expert who testified that the plaintiff could not return to work due to his injuries and medications. The plaintiff presented video depositions from his pain management physician and his hand surgeon. The plaintiff’s pain management physician testified as to the types of pain management the plaintiff was undergoing and what he would need in the future. The plaintiff’s hand surgeon testified as to the plaintiff’s injury and that the re-injury did not affect the plaintiff’s recovery.

The defendant serviced the existing printing press units at the plaintiff’s place of employment. A newspaper owned these units. The defendant took apart certain units on the press, cleaned and adjusted them and replaced worn parts and then reassembled the presses. The defendant argued that it was under no obligation to bring machinery up to current industry standards during this rebuilding process. Further, according to the defendant, the machine did meet the applicable ANSI standards in any case. And, lastly, the defendant argued that it was the plaintiff’s own negligent action of several time placing his hand inside a press that he knew was "live" without utilizing various safety measures required by the manufacturer.

At trial, the defendant called an expert who was the chairman of the ANSI subcommittee that promulgated the specific ANSI standard central to this case. The defendant’s expert testified that the specific standard cited by the plaintiff did not call for a control station where the plaintiff claimed it did and that the press unit did comply with ANSI standards. The expert also testified that an additional control station, located where 7 3 plaintiff was arguing it should have been, would not have prevented the accident regardless because the plaintiff could not have reached a control station in this location from his operating position. The defendant also called an orthopedist who had performed an independent medical examination on the plaintiff and testified that the plaintiff’s impairment was not as severe as claimed and that the plaintiff was capable of performing motor functions allowing him to work. The defendant’s expert also opined that the plaintiff was abusing pain medications and that inappropriate pain management was hindering the plaintiff’s recovery. The defendant called a vocational expert who testified as to what types of jobs the plaintiff was capable of in other fields. The defendant called a hand surgeon whose testimony focused on the plaintiff’s re-injury and its effect on his recovery.

The jury found for the defendant on all counts. This case is currently on appeal.

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