A mechanic at a Pee Dee region manufacturing plant lost his fingers after a press machine crushed and burned his hand while he was attempting to find an air leak. Attorney Douglas Jennings of Yarborough Applegate and Austin Crosby of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Elzroth, & Detrick in Hampton were able to help the mechanic injured at work secure a $1,000,000 settlement against the machine’s manufacturer.
When attempting to find the air leak, the mechanic removed a guard on the machine, leading to his dominant hand becoming trapped inside. He sustained a horrific degloving injury, resulting in the loss of his middle, ring and pinky fingers. Despite several surgeries, the mechanic has been left with limited use of his index finger and thumb, and now relies on a prosthetic.
The mechanic filed a breach of warranty claim against the European machine manufacturer, as well as a product liability and negligent-design action against the company’s American subsidiary. Both claims focused on the absence of an interlock device that would have allowed him to perform the diagnostic test with the machine fully engaged, but not in gear.
“Interlock devices have been around for decades, and if one had been utilized on this machine, [our client] would still have his hand,” Crosby said.
Despite the defense claiming that the removal of the guard was contrary to the plant’s safety protocols, the mechanic countered that removing the guard with the machine fully engaged was the only practical way to locate the air leak without an interlock device in place.
“Such an interlock device would essentially work like a neutral gear in an automobile, and would have prevented his injuries,” Jennings said.
Disclaimer: Every case is unique, and prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.