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ARTICLE ID 39392

- PRODUCTS LIABILITY - ALLEGED DESIGN DEFECT - ALLEGED FAILURE TO WARN - PLAINTIFF SUSTAINS HAND INJURY DURING OPERATION OF PACKAGING MACHINE - CRUSHING INJURY TO NON-DOMINANT HAND - SUBSTANTIAL LOSS OF USE.

U.S. Dist., Eastern

The 64-year-old male plaintiff contended that due to the alleged defective design of the defendant’s packaging machine and the alleged failure to provide adequate instructions as to safe operation, he suffered a crushing injury to his non-dominant hand resulting in total disability. The plaintiff maintained that in ________, he was operating the defendant’s N.L.L. form, fill and seal packaging machine when the machine jammed. This machine is used in the dairy industry to construct milk cartons. The machine utilizes a rotating spider mandrel consisting of a center hub with six legs. The milk carton is rotated from one leg to the next as the carton is constructed. The plaintiff contended that he turned the machine off, reached into the machine to clear the jam and that the machine then started up causing the plaintiff’s hand to become crushed between the machine and the rotating mandrel. The plaintiff argued that the defendant’s machine should have been designed with an electrical interlock guard at the point where the user could reach into the machine. The plaintiff contended that this would then cause a break in the electrical contact and prevent the machine from operating. The plaintiff also argued that the defendant’s machine failed to provide adequate warnings and instructions to the user. The plaintiff asserted that the key lock which stated "run," "safe" and "lock" was not an adequate protection device. The plaintiff’s expert civil engineer contended that the machine should have had an electrical interlock guard. This expert also contended that the start button on the defendant’s machine should have been a tubular ring guard requiring the user to push inside a hole to start the machine. The expert asserted that this would prevent the machine from starting due to the user inadvertently pushing a regular start button. The defendant countered the plaintiff’s arguments by asserting that the subject machine actually contained an electrical interlock intervention. The defendant asserted that if the machine had been in its original condition, it would not have caused the plaintiff’s injury. The defendant asserted that the subject machine had been misused, improperly maintained and improperly modified. The defendant’s expert mechanical engineer contended that as designed, the machine contained microswitches that would trip a limit switch in the event of a jam, preventing the machine from restarting. This expert asserted that the three key microswitches had been disconnected. This expert further asserted that the machine was equipped with a key ring guard which had been removed. The defendant also presented the designer of the subject machine.

This expert mechanical engineer described the design and operation of the machine as well as the condition of the machine when it left the defendant’s control. He verified the contentions of the defendant’s other expert mechanical engineer. The defendant further maintained that the plaintiff had 38 years of experience in the dairy industry and understood that if the machine was in the "safe" mode, it would not start. The defendant also contended that the accompanying manual offered explicit warnings. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon contended that the plaintiff suffered a substantial loss of use of his hand and was fully disabled. The plaintiff’s examining psychologist also contented that there was total disability due to loss of hand strength and mobility. The defendant did not present an expert medical witness, but asserted that the plaintiff suffered from a pre-existing arthritic condition. The jury found for the defendant. Moore vs. Ex-Cello Corp. and Pure Pak. Case no. 88- ________; Judge Jay Waldman, 2-9-90. Attorney for plaintiff: Peter Gardner in Philadelphia; Attorney for defendant: Dean Murtagh in Philadelphia. Plaintiff’s expert civil engineer: Thomas Oravecz of Camp Hill; Plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon: Dr. Myerof Philadelphia. Plaintiff’s examining psychologist: Dr. Donald Jennings in Philadelphia. Defendant’s expert mechanical engineer: William Eaton of Edison, N.J. Defendant’s expert mechanical engineer and machine designer: Robert Liesecki.

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