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$________ Failure to adequately guard printing press - avulsion injury to thumb.

U.S. Dist., Eastern Dist. of PA.

The plaintiff, age 18 at the time of the incident and 21 at trial, contended that the printing press manufactured by the defendant in ________ was defective in that it lacked a necessary guard in the area of rapidly rotating shafts. The plaintiff contended that as a result, he suffered a severe degloving injury to the thumb and minor injury to the tips of the ring and middle finger on his non-dominant hand.

The plaintiff testified that he was standing on a slightly elevated step of the press and that when someone called his name, he turned, causing his hand to brush against one of the rapidly rotating shafts, whereupon his hand was drawn into the nip point created by an oscillating lever. The plaintiff’s expert testified that the area surrounding the shafts should have been guarded. The plaintiff’s treating hand surgeon testified as to the degloving injury suffered. The physician related that most of the soft tissue in the thumb had avulsed and that extensive scar tissue formed, resulting in the thumb adhering to the index finger. Following surgery, the plaintiff regained most of the use of his thumb. The plaintiff’s expert testified, however, that the plaintiff will permanently suffer some weakness in the hand and that the moderate remaining cosmetic injury will be present permanently. The expert further maintained that because of the likelihood of the formation of additional scar tissue, a future tendon release may well be necessary. The plaintiff has returned to his former position and made no future economic claims. The plaintiff introduced special damages of approximately $________.

The defendant maintained that the area of the rotating shafts was safe in the absence of a guard and contended that there was sufficient distance between the shafts to obviate any hazard. The defendant further pointed to an inconsistent statement made by the plaintiff in his deposition, that his thumb had contacted the adjacent rollers. The defendant maintained that the manufactured had placed a guard over the rollers and that the plaintiff’s employer had modified the machine by removing the guard. The plaintiff countered that he may have been mistaken in his prior deposition due to the difficulties in recalling such a traumatic event. The plaintiff testified that he had refreshed his recollection upon subsequently speaking to the individual who came to his assistance after the accident.

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