Trial Lawyers and Table Saws

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Blog entry by smgaines posted 10-09-2010 11:52 PM 1719 reads 0 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I read an article today from Regina, SK about a student that had two fingers cut off in a table saw accident. Let me start off by saying that I feel for anyone that has a serious accident in the workshop. Especially one where you loose fingers. The student is taking legal action against the school for “board negligence, instructor incompetence and shoddy equipment”. I read on thinking that maybe a fence was damaged or that there was a misalignment of the blade, but when you read on, the shoddy table saw was that the blade didn’t stop when it came into contact with the students fingers. The line that really got me shaking my head was that the “old and outdated” table saw “suddenly and unexpectedly” propelled a piece of wood toward him causing the blade to come into contact with his fingers. Again I feel sorry for the guy but I’m wondering where does this stop. I”m actually suprised that anyone is selling or manufacturing a traditional table saw anymore. I’ve read several comments from people supporting the lawsuits because they feel like its the only way to get the technology implemented, but if you think about how many table saws are in high school shop class rooms, college class rooms, cabinet shops etc.. the task and expense of changing all of those out at one time would be overwhelming. Anyone stepping into a shop has to realize that there is a certain risk when working with power tools. If you don’t want to assume the risk don’t enter the shop.

The article can be found here.

-- Scott, Georgia

31 comments so far

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3203 days

#1 posted 10-09-2010 11:58 PM

Didn’t read the article, but … am reminded of another similar story that got HUGE response, on LJ.

The OTHER case … had … the inventor of SawStop behind it.

That chaps a few peoples’ hides.

I’d be VERY surprised if he (a lawyer, by training, IIRC) wasn’t behind it.

In truth ? For a REASONABLE fee, I WOULD pay for the technology. Problem was, he offered it to major TS manufacturers for a very HIGH fee. When they uniformly told him “No,” he went in the TS business for himself.

As I’m fond of saying, I’m a VERY cautious (but fast !) motorcycle rider … but … wear a helmet and a Kevlar riding suit.

-- -- Neil

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

702 posts in 3099 days

#2 posted 10-10-2010 01:03 AM

My only 2 cents is that if a school buys a new table saw, it should have to buy one with safety feature so for right now a school should have to buy a saw stop if it replacing a table saw.

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2952 days

#3 posted 10-10-2010 01:07 AM

Wonder how many schools have been sued because the school bus didn’t have air bags in every seat? It’s only a matter of time before some ambulance chaser goes after this too.

-- Life is good.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#4 posted 10-10-2010 02:24 AM

This whole SawStop crap really chaps my hide. I read an article a while back about a guy who sued the parent company of Ryobi (and won over a million) because he had an accident. The thing was though that he was cutting material for flooring freehand (no fence) with all available safety equipment removed.
I agree the SawStop technology is great. I applaud anything safety related that even may prevent an accident. However, some common sense has to come in somewhere too. We all know that eventually one of these SawStop saws is going to malfunction with an operator that has become a little TOO comfortable with the saw. When he gets hurt, he’s going to sue SawStop. Then what?
They are trying to make it a law that all saws have to have this technology. That’d be great if the technology was available at a price that most of us could afford. What about the saws already out there? Are they going to make it illiegal for me to own my Rigid?
Let’s go a step further since we all need protection from our own screwups. The last shop injury I had was a pretty badly beat up finger. I turned my head to look at something as I was bringing the hammer down for a good swift blow. I banged the hell out of my finger due to my own momentarily lack of common sense. May be hammer should have SwingStop technology. Should I have sued Eastwing?
Most of what I’m hearing about table saws these days is just as ridiculous as the women who spilled the McDonald’s coffe on herself and sued. The legal system is getting crazier by the day. Too often some people see the civil court system as nothing more than a lottery system.
Once again though, common sense needs to come in somewhere. I can’t afford a SawStop. I know all the arguments about how much is my finger worth. Well, I’m a poor man and this is a hobby to me. My finger is not worth me being that cautious to spend that kind of money if it would mean my family does not eat. I am very cautious with my Rigid. I have all ten fingers. I’ve only come close to losing them once before in my life, and it was because I was doing something on a table saw that I knew damned well I should not have been doing. If I had lost a finger or two at that time, the only person I could have rightfully sued would have been myself. I was the one not using common sense. It taught me a lesson. I needed to pay more attention to what I was doing.
Sawstop? Great technology. Should it be required on all table saws? No way. Unless the price of this great technology comes WAY down, it would put table saws out of the price range of a lot of people.


View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 10-10-2010 02:30 AM


-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3203 days

#6 posted 10-10-2010 02:51 AM

William: the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit isn’t as simple as folks make it out to be:

-- -- Neil

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#7 posted 10-10-2010 03:07 AM

I know. Poor example. It was the first one that popped into my mind though that I thought might get my point across to a lot of people.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#8 posted 10-10-2010 04:41 AM

Lawyers have taken over and run the cost up on so many things though. They often help idiots sue over crazy stuff:

Under a car hood:
“Do not attempt to remove fan belt while engine is running”
Someone attempted that and sued!

On a Planters peanut can:
“Product may contain nuts”
Someone with a peanut allergy ate peanuts and sued!

At the drive up ATM is braille lettering because a blind person sued for discrimination.

I do come across a lot of unsafe things on a regular basis. I either change things to make myself safer if I have to have anything to do with it or I avoid it like the plague if I cannot make it safe or if I am not willing to take the risk. It is absolutely amazing to me anytime I read something like this original post. I was sure when I read that “shoddy equiment” part that the saw was missing some kind of standard safety equipment. Lack of the latest and greatest tecknology though does not warrent a piece of equipment shoddy.


View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2909 days

#9 posted 10-10-2010 05:13 AM

Ever wonder why contracts are so long? Each clause is a lawsuit.

You just can’t protect against stupid. Can’t legislate it either.

Anyone wonder why wood shops and the like are disappearing from education?

What about the guy that sued Winnebago because he put the RV on cruise control and went in back to make some coffee (or some such)? Folks just don’t have common sense any more. Back when farms were more prevalent, kids learned a lot of skills because they had to.

Today, all a kid needs are two thumbs to press buttons. Hope that kid didn’t wack his thumbs!

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 2976 days

#10 posted 10-10-2010 06:12 AM

Abbott has it right, this is just pure bullhockey.

The sawstop was iniitally one of 3 finalists as I agonized over a Craftsman TS replacement. Chose the Powermatic PM2000 and couldn’t be happier. As good as the SS TS is, I didn’t want the blade crasher, didn’t want to pay for it, and didn’t particularly want a SS product for reasons related to the company’s marketing.

Sure glad I was able to get my PM2000 before all table saws are required to have the
SS or equivalent mechanism!

-- Smitty

View Jason's profile


659 posts in 3537 days

#11 posted 10-10-2010 04:27 PM

Maybe a few of the lawyers bringing these cases forward will be kind enough to reenact the accident with their own fingers. A little karmic retribution. Plus with a few missing digits maybe it’ll slow them down.

-- Jason - Colorado Springs

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2969 days

#12 posted 10-10-2010 09:40 PM

Common sense has died!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3370 days

#13 posted 10-10-2010 10:07 PM

” the only problem

with common sense ,

it’s not very common ” – voltair

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3370 days

#14 posted 10-10-2010 10:12 PM


-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3136 days

#15 posted 10-10-2010 11:38 PM

This whole thing makes my ass want a dip of snuff!
Some things in life are just inherently dangerous. I spent 30 years welding gasoline tankers and highly explosive chemical tankers. My uncle was killed welding an old asphalt spreader loaded with asphalt cut back, the same flash point as gasoline.
When you are doing these things you have to maintain your focus and follow certain safety rules that are unbendable. Same thing with our saws and other tools. To be safe means to focus on the task at hand. Let your mind wonder and you pay the consequences.
I agree with Ron White; You can’t fix stupid. Maybe the answer is to ive an IQ test prior to selling some idiot a tool.
Just my two cents worth. Rand

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