A 17-year-old student was severely injured by a table saw in his wood shop class. Two of the fingers on his left hand were severed, he broke multiple bones, and suffered serious lacerations to his hand and left arm. He had a lengthy and expensive rehabilitation process.
The challenges in the case included the fact that the student was not using all of the safety guards on the saw. The student is from a small, tightly-knit community in Eastern Oregon, and many of the student witnesses were fiercely loyal to the wood shop teacher. However, we were able to resolve the case based on the lack of training of the wood shop teacher, pattern of poor supervision of the students, and the school district’s failure to have a safer SawStop brand saw with automatic safety features which very quickly disable a spinning saw preventing serious injury.
OREGON FAMILY BATTLE
Client worked for an environmental clean-up company in Oregon and Washington. Client’s employer contracted with a county in Washington state to rehabilitate a 90,000-gallon water tank. The county had been informed of the water tower’s extreme state of disrepair, including rotting decking surrounding the top of the 47-foot water tank, but failed to pass this information on to the client’s employer or client.
On June 20, 2010, client began work at the top of the water tank. The rotten decking collapsed beneath his feet and he fell 47 feet to the floor below sustaining catastrophic injuries, including pelvic fractures, multiple thoracic and lumbar vertebrae fractures, a broken right shoulder and hip, and injuries to his spleen, liver, and head. A lawsuit was brought against the county and the client’s employer for negligence. Prior to trial, a settlement was reached for $2,050,000, the county for $1,150,000 and client’s employer for $900,000.
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