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fingers partially amputated when he attempts to clear clogged discharge chute of snow blower - Plaintiff alleged that snow blower was defectively designed.

Richmond County, New York

The male plaintiff was using a gasoline-powered snow blower to clean his mother’s driveway. The blower was manufactured by the defendant Ariens. The plaintiff had been using the snow blower for several hours when its snow discharge chute became clogged with snow. He attempted to clear the clogged snow with his hand.

He sustained an amputation of the tips of two fingers and mangled a third finger. The plaintiff alleged that he had put the machine into neutral before inserting his hand in the chute. The defendant argued that the plaintiff must have put his hand in the chute while the engine was running.

The plaintiff contended that the snow blower was defectively designed in two ways: 1) it failed to have an automatic shut-off; and 2) it failed to have a guard which would close off the chute.

An expert engineer supported the plaintiff’s contentions.

The defendant argued that this snow blower had been manufactured in ________ which was long before automatic shut-offs were installed on snow blowers. The defendant further argued that it is not workable to put a guard over the chute because that would cause clogging and would defeat the purpose of the snow blower which is to blow the snow out of the chure.

The plaintiff further contended that there were insufficient warnings on the machine regarding the danger of the chute. The defendant pointed out the warnings on the machine and in the instruction manual. The warnings instructed the user to stop the machine before removing an obstruction. The defendant’s expert engineer confirmed that automatic shut-offs were not used in ________ and that a guard would impair the outward flow of snow.

This was a unified trial. The plaintiff presented medical testimony by the hand surgeon who had repaired his hand. The plaintiff claimed that he could no longer work as a self-employed home improvement contractor. The defense did not present medical testimony. The trial lasted two weeks.

The jury returned a no liability verdict after deliberating for one and a half hours.

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