A 28-year-old Buffalo man, who lost his left arm in an industrial accident, was retained by our firm. The worker, who was cleaning a furniture press manufactured in Italy, severed his forearm at the elbow when it became enmeshed in the machine’s moving parts. We sued the manufacturer of the machine and its U.S. distributor.
After an extensive investigation which included the taking of testimony from corporate representatives in Italy, the case settled for $2 million. At the time of the injury, our client was directed to clean the rotating belt of the machine on a daily basis. In September 2004, his left hand got caught and was dragged into a moving chain and sprocket causing severe mutilation and amputation at the elbowThe evidence in this case demonstrated that the machine was defectively designed because it failed to incorporate basic, well recognized, and inexpensive safety devices which would have cut the power to the machine and prevented our client’s injury.Both the manufacturer and the distributor were well aware that it was necessary to have electric power flowing to the press (and to the belt and roller assembly) to perform a thorough cleaning of both sections of the press belt. Power was needed to cycle the belt from the lower to the upper position where the belt was accessible for cleaning.Like many industrial accidents, this one could have been avoided had the manufacturer incorporated basic shut-off switches in the design of the machine. Its negligent failure to do so has maimed our client for life. Lawsuits against negligent manufacturers are one of the effective tools our society has to deter and punish the misconduct of those corporations which all too often place profits ahead of people.