Last month federal district judge Claude Hilton dismissed an antitrust suit filed against rival makers of table saws by SawStop, a company that has patented a table saw with innovative safety features. “Hilton’s ruling, while a blow to SawStop, has no legal bearing on the company’s efforts to get the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require the use of their technology on most table saws sold in the U.S.” Trial lawyers at Boies Schiller and elsewhere have also filed numerous product liability suits against makers of conventional saws; many saw users prefer to go on buying conventional saws, which are much less expensive, in preference to using the SawStop system [David Frane, Tools of the Trade, background; earlier]
NPR covers a story we had in March following a $1.5 million jury award. The law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner says it is ginning up a campaign of product liability suits to demand that power tool makers be punished for not adopting the finger-protection technology. If that isn’t enough, Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Inez Tenenbaum says her agency may step in. What about leaving the decision to people who actually buy and use power saws, many of whom have said they have no wish to buy the expensive feature? Alas, that’s not how either the politics or the law work these days.
- “Table Saw without ‘saw stop’ technology defective: First Circuit” [George Conk, Ted Frank, earlier here, here]
- Court OKs burned patron’s flaming-rum suit against Bacardi [Reuters]
- Feds won’t pursue Title IX complaint against 60 Oregon school districts [Oregonian]
- IRS putting the squeeze on small tax preparers [WaPo]
- How the incinerator (and decades of bad decisions) bankrupted Harrisburg [Bond Girl]
- “The most thoughtful, reasonable guy in the whole symposium” — aw [Greenfield on law licensing, earlier] P.S. And similarly from David Lat;
- Adam Freedman and readers on Florida “wrongful birth” case [Ricochet, earlier]
- Estate of Anna Nicole Smith may sue over opera based on her life [Daily Mail via Surber, other Daily Mail]
- Maryland Department of Environment: yep, we put tracking devices on Eastern Shore watermen’s boats [Red Maryland]
- Trial lawyers’ federal contributions went 97% to Dems last cycle [Freddoso, Examiner]
- $6.5 million for family abuse: unusual sovereign-exposure law costs Washington taxpayers again [PoL]
- Canadian court: no, we can’t and won’t waive loser-pays for needy litigants who lose cases [Erik Magraken]
- CPSC considers mandating “SawStop” technology [Crede, background]
- Gun groups alarmed over ATF pick [Chicago Tribune]
- Jury blames hit-run death on wheelchair curb cut [four years ago on Overlawyered]
A Boston jury has awarded $1.5 million to a man whose fingers were injured by a tablesaw on the theory that it was defective for the saw to lack “flesh-detection” technology. According to the lawsuit, the inventor of the technology offered to sell it to tool companies a decade ago, but negotiations broke down and none made a deal; the inventor proceeded to launch his own line of saws, SawStop, incorporating the technology. “[Carlos] Osorio’s case is one of more than 50 lawsuits pending throughout the United States against the major table saw manufacturers for failure to adopt the technology.” [Boston Globe, Fine Woodworking] SawStop bills itself on one customer testimonial at its website as the “Rolls-Royce of table saws”, and appears to sell its saw at a premium of hundreds of dollars over ordinary table saws widely available at prices below $500. A commenter in the very active thread at Wood Magazine estimates the premium at $800-$1,000, and also lists some other reasons why many buyers might not welcome the jury’s edict.
More: commenter Dennis N. says the safety technology “stops the blade by driving an aluminum stop block up into the teeth, jamming it. The blade and the cartridge are ruined in the process, requiring about $175 to replace the pair, depending on the price of your blade. Not bad to save a finger, but the thing does have a significant false alarm rate. Wet wood or a wet pocket in dry wood can set off the brake, costing you some big bucks. … It’s not at the top of my list for tools. I’d rather get a higher quality saw.” Yet more: Rusty Shackleford, LegalMatch. More/update: Jul. 8.