Posts Tagged ‘product liability’

SawStop technology, cont’d

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.

$1 million awarded in bicycle crash

Most curious angle, as reported in the Tulsa World:

The plaintiffs alleged that the bike was “inherently defective and dangerous” because of the defective front fender bracket, which broke within the first week the bike was used.

Pacific Cycle countered that it had designed and manufactured an ordinary “pedal powered” bicycle but that a third party had retrofitted it with a motor.

The company claimed that the mounting of the motor was “unforeseeable misuse and modification” of the bike.

Backs propeller boat into victim, manufacturer liable

Jacob Brochtrup jumped into the water to retrieve a tow rope, and was gravely injured when the boat’s driver, who didn’t know he was there, backed the boat up. A Texas federal jury has now found the Brunswick Corp. partly to blame and told it to pay $3.8 million. His attorney argued that “manufacturers could make boats and motors safer by installing guards on propellers and placing a shield over the back,” something that current boat designs do not do. [Austin American-Statesman via Continuous Wave] Related: March 19 (tablesaw design not adopted by industry). More: Abnormal Use.

Jury: maker should pay $1.5 million for selling standard tablesaw design

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.

“I am not afraid of my Toyota Prius”

I expand on my earlier post in today’s Washington Examiner, including my skepticism of the conventional reporting on the James Sikes incident.

Michael Fumento is also on the case on his blog and in the LA Times; see also Richard Schmidt in the New York Times on the last generation of sudden acceleration.

Update: Fumento goes farther on the James Sikes story than I did. I also found the idea that Sikes reached for the accelerator while driving implausible after trying to repeat the experiment in a (parked!) Prius.