table saw products liability

Ryobi Settles Amputation Products Liability Case Over Saw for $2 million

One World Technologies, maker of the Ryobi Technologies table saw, has settled a products liability case over its table saw for almost $2 million. Plaintiff and personal injury victim Alex Mai, who accidentally severed several fingers on his dominant right hand with a Ryobi Technologies table saw, had sued One World Technologies, which made the saw, and Eric Aponte, who owned the saw, in Pennsylvania.

The suit was predicated upon negligence and products liability claims.

Mai, the injured party, recently settled with One World Technologies for $1.9 million, insured by AIG Group, and Aponte for $100,000, insured by Allstate. The full story is here.

The plaintiff was 19 in March 2012, when he was helping Aponte install hardwood floors at a woman’s home. Inexperienced in the use of table saws, he tried to cut some flooring.  When sawing the wood came into contact with the back end of the spinning saw blade. This created a ‘kickback’ which pushed his hand onto the blade, amputating his middle finger on his right, dominant hand.  Other fingers sustained nerve damage and disfigurement., which caused a “kickback accident” that pushed Mai’s hand into the blade.

The case had been going on for almost 5 years, with the injured victim and his lawyers using expert witnesses to prove pain and suffering and lost earning capacity. Liability, or who is at fault, was also a contested issue.

According to a court memorandum, the plaintiff alleged that the saw had been originally equipped with a guard. However, the guard had been taken off before he used the saw. The injured plaintiff argued that the guard had been defectively designed, the manufacturer knew customers had frequently been choosing to remove the guard, and Ryobi should have used “flesh detection” technology. The “flesh detection” technology has been available since early as 2000. This could have stopped the blade, and prevented the amputation that resulted in a significant personal injury.

One World Technologies, in a Court Memorandum, said the personal injury victim misused the saw and should have had the safety guard in place. Ryobi also said that he assumed the risk and that the saw met national safety standards.

Also, the insurers for the company and other defendants noted that the plaintiff is gainfully employed as a UPS supervisor. That he got the job after the accident and has less future lost wages.

The plaintiff’s memo said, “Ryobi simply decided that safety of its users wasn’t worth diminishing its profits on ‘best-selling,’ ‘lowest costing’ table saw.” “As a result, hundreds of BTS-10 users, including Alex Mai, suffered serious, permanent and disfiguring injuries.”

The claim was based upon a risk-utility and consumer expectation theories of products liability and raised negligence claims against the saw maker and Aponte, as well as a failure to warn claim.

Contact us if you have any questions regarding a potential products liability claim. Attorney Ed Kramer has handled products liability wrongful death and amputation claims to a successful conclusion. His Law Firm wants to help you!