Hands Crushed In Record Press

$1,500,000 verdict in Federal Court in New York for a woman whose hand and wrist were crushed in a record press that made vinyl LP records.

This 35 year old woman was using a hydraulic and steam press to make LP records. Her job required her to place a paper label on the bottom plate, cover it with a “coil” of warm, soft vinyl and place another paper label on top. It was known that air currents sometimes dislodged the top label so the worker might have to adjust it after the cycle was started.

There was a single electric eye beam across the opening which would stop the press if someone’s hand were in danger as the press was closing. This beam consisting of a light source on one side and a receiver on the other was attached to the machine with simple hose clamps. The clamps frequently loosened and would shift position. They could also be moved to the bottom of the rod they were attached to so they wouldn’t operate at all.

At the time of the accident the worker had placed her hand back into the machine to adjust the top label, but the electric beam was at the bottom of the opening affording her no protection at all. This design was too easy to bypass which made the machine defective. The plaintiff, mother of 5 children, lost her hand at the wrist and wore a “claw” type of prosthesis on her left arm.

Brain Injury From Unsafe Seatbelt

$2,000,000 settlement structured for a 6 month old who sustained a brain injury in an automobile accident because the car didn’t stand up to the accident properly.

Automobiles are supposed to be designed to not only protect the occupants from injury from the crash, but also protecting them from the second impact (the impact with the interior of the vehicle). In this case, a compact car was struck in the rear by a mid-sized truck. At the moment of impact, the driver’s seat back collapsed rearward and formed a ramp. The driver’s seat belt failed to hold the driver in the seat, and she slid backward up the ramp. Her head went over the top of the seat back and hit her 6 month old baby who was secured in a proper child seat in the back.

The manufacturer was found to have violated the National Transportation Safety Act by providing an unsafe seat belt that failed to hold the occupant in the seat under crash conditions as required. The trial on liability lasted 6 weeks in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case settled the morning the damages trial was about to commence. The child’s lifetime care will be covered by the structured settlement.

Unsafe Machine Lift

$3,100,000 judgment recovered by a 27 year old maintenance worker who used an unsafe lift machine to go up 12 feet from the floor.

A vertical lift machine, used to go up to 24 feet high to change light bulbs in high ceilings, was designed without a safety interlock to prevent its use unless the extra-long legs needed to stabilize it were in place. The machine was designed to be portable and capable of being wheeled through a common doorway.

However, with such a narrow base, the lift would be unstable. So, the manufacturer designed 6 foot long legs to extend from the base in order to stabilize the lift. The problem that the manufacturer failed to address is that the lift would go up to working height, even if the legs weren’t installed.

The jury found that designing this lift without an interlock, like elevator doors have, made the machine unsafe. The judgment will provide lifetime income for the worker’s lost wages and enough money for him to make a comfortable life.