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Plaintiff injured while operating allegedly defective stud gun - Gun discharges during loading - Partial amputation of dominant thumb - Loss of hand function.

Dade County, Florida

The male plaintiff, in his 20’s at the time of injury, alleged that a stud gun manufactured by the defendant discharged while he was loading it, causing partial amputation of his thumb. The plaintiff contended that the gun was equipped with a defectively manufactured firing pin return spring, resulting in the accidental discharge.

The plaintiff testified that he was using a stud gun manufactured by the defendant in the course of his employment as an installer of fire sprinkler systems. The plaintiff was pushing a metal stud down the barrel of the gun with a device known as a driver when the gun discharged, causing the driver to strike the plaintiff’s right thumb, according to his testimony. The plaintiff’s engineer opined that the firing pin return spring of the gun was defectively manufactured by the defendant.

The plaintiff’s orthopedic surgeon and plastic surgeon testified that the plaintiff sustained a partial amputation of the right thumb, injury to the joint requiring internal fixation and nerve damage as a result of the accident. Although the plaintiff returned to his former employment, his rehabilitation expert testified that he should not continue in that line of work.

The defendant’s in-house engineer testified that the firing pin return spring of the stud gun could not have failed as alleged by the plaintiff. Even if such failure did occur, it would not have caused the gun to discharge as alleged, according to this expert.

The defendant’s rehabilitation expert opined that even though the plaintiff lost thumb mobility as a result of the accident, he still possessed an above-average capacity for the job he was currently performing. The jury found that the product was not defective.

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