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Table saw suit nets $1.5 million verdict

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Forum topic by GlenGuarino posted 1550 days ago 1453 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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GlenGuarino

147 posts in 1611 days


1550 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw

I just read this article in my Woodshop News newsletter about a jury awarding $1.5 million to someone injured while using a table saw. It has a far reaching effect on companies, small businesses and schools using a non-SawStop machine.

Here is a link to the article
http://www.woodshopnews.com/component/content/article/125-april-2010-3rd/498908-table-saw-suit-nets-15-million-verdict

Glen

-- http://www.guarinofurnituredesigns.com/


26 replies so far

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Wolffarmer

393 posts in 1835 days


#1 posted 1550 days ago

Injured six fingers. If he was using the saw any where near correctly how did he get 6 fingers into the blade??

-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

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MyFathersSon

180 posts in 1910 days


#2 posted 1549 days ago

From what I have read on other threads on this site and elsewhere—
It sounds like he was kneeling on the ground – leaning over the saw—blade at maximum height – guard off.
In short—violating pretty much every safety precaution that I am sure was clearly printed in the saw’s manual and SHOULD have been clearly explained to him before he was allowed to touch the saw.

If anyone was at fault here (other than the user himself) it was his employer who was neligent in training and supervision. BUT—- I guess they figured Ryobi had deeper pockets.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

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rep

95 posts in 1707 days


#3 posted 1548 days ago

Hard to imagine what the jurors could have heard or been told that would make them (all?) think that Ryobi was at fault here? Kinda makes me less confident in the jury system.

-- rick

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reggiek

2240 posts in 1867 days


#4 posted 1548 days ago

This is old news but everytime I see it I am shocked and angered by how far our society has gone towards blaming everyone else for someone’s accident or for someone’s own mistakes. This guy should have known better (He is solely responsible for his own acts)....For one….. no one is forcing him to do something that he feels is dangerous – just don’t do it (if you get hurt it is you who are at fault – unless the machine comes apart or blows up…something of this nature). If an employer allows the situation to be dangerous as in this case then the employer is also contributing to the problem (contributory negligence). To allow an award against the tool manufacturer as in this case…sets extremely bad precedent. Danger is inherant in these types of tools (there is no way currently to make them absolutely safe). The tool did not cause the accident in this case (there was no negligent manufacturing or design – the machine didn’t blow up or come apart) – the operator caused the accident by being unsafe… how can we be assigning the manufacturer blame when the user is negligent and the purchasing (employer) company contributes? Now it seems that they are to blame for not paying Saw Stop for their technology…why not blame the purchaser for not buying a Saw Stop? Pretty soon no one can make these tools because there really is no way to make them absolutely safe or to shoulder the liability for everyone’s mistakes….No wonder all the manufacturing is leaving the US….why take responsiblity and liability for negligence you can’t control or even foresee? These stupid juries that feel the manufacturer has bigger pockets are not considering the fact that all of us pay in this result – the companies pass on the cost to us (making the equipment out of range for hobbyists or individuals) or they go out of business and leave us fewer choices (if any) or they move their operations overseas where they have some shield from suit happy consumers…..Anyway, end of Rant.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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live4ever

982 posts in 1607 days


#5 posted 1548 days ago

Whether ya like it or not, tablesaws are going to get safer. We can debate the stupidity of the user to no end, but the fact remains that stupid people, reasonable people with stupid lapses, and very intelligent people all will continue to suffer injuries at the tablesaw. There will be lawsuits – some ridiculous and some slightly less ridiculous.

The more interesting question to me is…will companies be able to come up with an equivalent safety mechanism that doesn’t infringe on Sawstop’s patents, or will everyone be forced to license Sawstop technology or be forced out of the market?

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

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MyFathersSon

180 posts in 1910 days


#6 posted 1548 days ago

I’m definitely not against saws being made safer.
If a saw with SawStop style technology is available in my budget range when my current saw dies—I will definitely buy it.

I’m against this concept that we are all helpless victims of the big wicked manufacturers and retailers etc.
Nothing is ever ‘my’ fault. If I burn myself spilling coffee in my lap—or I get fat from eating too many burgers – or if I cut my fingers on a sawblade because—it was never my fault—- someone did that to poor helpless me and they have to be punished.

Come to think of it—that’s not a bad philosophy after all—
I notice no where on these shoes or in shoe store is there a sign warning me to keep my laces tied or I might trip. So—if I leave them untied long enough—I should be able to sprain an ankle – and retire comfortably on the settlement.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

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fr8train

19 posts in 2035 days


#7 posted 1548 days ago

I got into an argument with a guy when seat belt laws went draconian a while back…. I told him that there would be no end to the Nanny Whiney Whimpy State….. he argued with me, and tried to give me his Libertarian credentials….. he was wrong, and I was right….. I hate being right about stuff like this.

The list goes on….. I can imagine Congress “coming down hard” on these evil tool-producers…. Can’t you hear the Three Stooges in speech after speech (Pelosi, Reid and aboma…. I can’t even say his name without building up with gas!)?

Well, I hate to say it, but the new Socialized medicine will put restrictions on ALL of our toys….. (no health-care for you, sir…. you didn’t follow gov’t prescribed rules for operating that piece of equipment…. and you took off the gov’t mandated safety devices….) Not to mention that this is a profitable extortion that these clowns have yet to hit… 1.5 million is chump change to the real thieves.

Sorry gentlemen, let’s get back to cutting wood (while we still have trees that are allowed for this purpose!)

Bless You MyFathersSon and good luck with your plan…. I would just ask that you wait until the gov’t takes over the shoe industry in this country….. then I will support you fully!

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reggiek

2240 posts in 1867 days


#8 posted 1548 days ago

MyFathersSon – great idea! Lets get all of us together and file a class action multi million lawsuit…look out adidas….LOL

Pretty soon there will be so many safety precautions and signs on everything that you won’t be able to see the product name. Look at the TV commercials for medicines….4 hours of side effects and cautions…makes you start thinking that the orginal problem is a walk in the park compared to the side effects of the drugs.

I was in my dentists office the other day and had to sign a document notifying me of all the stuff they might stick in my mouth…guess some shyster has figured out a way to sue over this.

Our education system is really failing us…People comming out of school are so dumb we need to warn them not to do stupid things that common sense dictates. Ok Mr. Phd – do you see that spinning metal thing on the saw? Well don’t touch it, ok? You might get a booboo.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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olddutchman

187 posts in 2532 days


#9 posted 1547 days ago

Here We go again! I am sorry, it seems that the nut case that should not use power tools, because He, or Shes not qualified, gets a tub of money. The process is nuts also!!!

-- Saved, and so grateful, consider who Created it ALL!!!

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BreakingBoardom

615 posts in 1678 days


#10 posted 1547 days ago

live4ever, it’s not that anybody here is really against saws getting safer (cause I’m sure we’d all be ok with that), but with that comes a cost. Some (or most) of us can’t afford Sawstops and we’d hate to have all saws mandate this technology and drive prices up. What drives most people crazy about this story is he sued a company for his own stupidity and lack of awareness. Now the way I see it, this accident can be directed related to the auto industry. I’m sure many more people die in auto accidents than from table saws yet we don’t see this kind of stuff happening. This lawsuit would be like a man suing Honda after falling asleep and crashing his 1988 Accord and then saying it’s their fault because they don’t have luxury safety features that wake you up when you fall asleep (Like some high end, maybe Mercedes??, cars have). It’s just ridiculous to think think the jury could side with this delusional man. I really hope this case is overturned.

-- Matt - http://breakingboardom.wordpress.com/

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MyFathersSon

180 posts in 1910 days


#11 posted 1547 days ago

“Pretty soon there will be so many safety precautions and signs on everything that you won’t be able to see the product name. ”
Reggie—
My current favorite example is one I have found on the back of several of these fold out sunshades made to cover your windshield while the car is parked—- ”Do not operate vehicle with sunscreen in place.”
I kid you not—look close next time I bet its there on yours too.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

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MyFathersSon

180 posts in 1910 days


#12 posted 1547 days ago

I think the technology behind the SawStop is amazing—have since I first heard of it and at that time I greatly admired them. And really want to keep feeling that way.
I hope their r&d people can continue to refine the technology and bring the price point down to a level that it can reasonably be included on DIY and hobbyist level saws where it would seem to be the greatest value.
I hope that other companies would be motivated by the successes of SawStop to come up with their own variations.

What I don’t like—and what I hope I am misreading—is the impression that SawStop is attempting to pressure the industry through government mandates and courtroom grandstanding—to do for them what they have failed to do on the open market.
I applaud the CPSC for thier comments that whatever regulation is written —it will not be written specifically to financially benefit a single company.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

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reggiek

2240 posts in 1867 days


#13 posted 1547 days ago

I have seen some of those warnings on the sunscreens…Isn’t it rediculous?....but the reason that it is there is due to some idiot actually doing this…and then suing because he/she was not warned. There are endless examples of these silly warnings.

I, being a safety nut, would never disagree about making something safer….but get real here….if you are stupid enough to try driving with the windshield shade in place…then I think that, like in nature, the world is better off without you. Any jury, that awards damages in this kind of case, also needs extermination….I just can’t get my mind around rewarding stupidity?

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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live4ever

982 posts in 1607 days


#14 posted 1547 days ago

I think it’s easy to be critical of the jury, but I’m pretty sure if faced with a similar case, all of you might make a similar determination. Why? There are three things that are very very likely given the outcome of the case.

1) Via the legal process of “discovery,” the plaintiff’s attorney got access to documents of the saw company’s cost-benefit analysis for including safety technology. As you might imagine, these facts were probably presented at a board meeting or something similar. Now, as you can also imagine, the company likely decided that the safety technology (Sawstop or otherwise) was too expensive to implement, and would hurt their bottom-line by x dollars. However, when a member of the general public is presented with the cold, hard numbers of how the saw company would lose x dollars of profit on every saw sale versus the man in front of them who lost his fingers, they are not likely to side with the company. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge the jury – juries are, after all, made up of people just like you with access to all of the facts and information of the case. If a jury of twelve didn’t hang on a case like this, there’s more than common sense at work here. There was obviously some very damaging (read: distasteful) evidence presented and my hunch is it had to do with the economics of excluding the safety technology. The numbers probably ended up being like “SS technology would cause us to lose $4 of profit per saw.” That’s an easy sell for the plaintiff’s attorney. “I’m sure Mr. X gladly would have paid $4 more for his saw to have kept his fingers.” Bam. The technology would not at all cause the saws to be priced at what you guys think they’d be (i.e., Sawstop levels), and I’m pretty sure the evidence showed that for the jury to rule how it did.

2) The lawyers/representatives for the saw company were probably distasteful to the jury. If they were too cold, blunt, and crass, it becomes easier to rule against them. These types of things have huge impacts on trials. If you have ever served on a jury, you probably can understand this. When a person gets hurt, and your defense is to blame them for their own injury, it tends not to sit well with the general public. That’s just the way it is.

3) In these types of cases, responsibility is often assigned. Unless we see the court documents, we don’t know if that happened in this case. But it’s entirely possible that the judge ruled that “40% of this was your fault, injured finger guy, and 60% was the company’s fault.” The award is then adjusted accordingly. So what I’m saying is, even though he got a lot of money, it’s not necessary that he was blameless. Of course, we don’t have a way of knowing without access to the full court report.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

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reggiek

2240 posts in 1867 days


#15 posted 1547 days ago

I’ve heard the same arguments Live4ever. But the logic falls down when you apply it the other way….why didn’t he buy a sawstop if the extra money would not have been a problem? Why didn’t he buy a sawstop in the first place? And if he is due money because he was hurt…then why isn’t everyone due money that buys a saw without the sawstop technology?

As for the financial decision, you are probably correct (companies have to make these kinds of decisions all the time), but again we have to consider that this is a free market system. You have a choice to not put yourself at risk – just don’t buy the product….if all saws were required to provide complete safety then no one could afford to make them…there would be no competition and the product would probably never improve…why do R&D when you might get sued out of business for adding something that might make another danger not to mention you are probably spending a fortune to make the machines in the first place and heck…everytime you make a new development everyone else will have to follow suit…soon saws would all be the same price.

Now consumers have to make this decision between safety and risk all the time. There are folks that jump out of Planes…and their are folks like us that use saws…there are folks that choose to sit on their couches all day…..I would say that no one should be allowed to do dangerous things because of the inherant possiblity they may get hurt or killed…or else society would have to pay them everytime they get hurt.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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