Each year, roughly 35,000 to 40,000 individuals sustain serious injuries while using table saws. Due to the nature of how these products are used, one of the most common types of injuries involves the operator’s fingers, hands, and arms.
In the recent case of Ingram v. Sears, a man from Alabama filed a lawsuit against Sears Roebuck & Co. after he lost several fingers while using a Craftsman table saw when his fingers came into contact with the saw blade. Ultimately, the plaintiff required the amputation of several fingers on his left hand.
Asserting claims for relief under product liability, negligence, and breach of implied warranty theories, the plaintiff’s complaint states that the man was using the product in a reasonable manner and exercising all due care to ensure his own safety. Additionally, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant knew the table saw was dangerous when it designed, manufactured, marketed, tested, approved, inspected, and sold the device.
The heart of the plaintiff’s complaint rests on his contention that the defendant was aware of a device that would have guarded the blade more safely and another technology that would have stopped the blade from spinning as soon as it came into contact with flesh. According to the plaintiff, the defendant failed to include either of these devices in the product’s design.
The technology to which the plaintiff is referring is called a SawStop. Developed over a decade ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) petitioned to have the device listed as a requirement in all table saws on the market. The agency has not yet made its final ruling on whether the technology must be included, but in the meantime it has recommended that manufacturers of table saws incorporate SawStop technology into their table saw product designs.
In a similar suit against Ryobi in 2011, another plaintiff suffered similar injuries while operating a Ryobi brand table saw. The plaintiff called the investor of SawStop, Dr. Stephen Gass, to testify that he had marketed the technology to a variety of table saw manufacturers, but none of them chose to implement the technology.
One of the central issues in dispute during the matter was whether SawStop or a similar technology constituted a viable alternative design. In order to show that a defendant is liable under a design defect theory of product liability, the plaintiff must show that there was a viable alternative design for the product in question that would not have posed the same level of danger. The alternative design must pose the same level of inherent usefulness that the product possesses when manufacturered according to the design that was actually used.
The plaintiff in the Ryobi case obtained a $1.5 million verdict against the defendant.
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries as the result of a dangerous or defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, our experienced and dedicated team of product liability lawyers has helped many accident victims, including in Texas, New York, and California, and we are prepared to help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries. From our main office located in Chicago, we proudly serve clients throughout the nation and offer a free consultation. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your appointment.