Man Awarded Money for Tablesaw Accident

Article - March 8, 2010

Dean alerted me to a blog post on FineWoodworking.com, who found an article from the Boston Globe (ain’t the internet great?). But the story was so interesting, I wanted to bring it to your attention to see what you thought.

Man Wins $1.5M In First of its Kind Saw Case
by: Jenn Abelson

A Boston jury has awarded $1.5 million to a Malden man who injured his fingers on a saw while installing oak wood flooring several years ago in a first of its kind case that claimed the standard design of American table saws is defective.

Carlos Osorio accused One World Technologies Inc., maker of Ryobi saws, of negligence for failing to include a flesh detection technology that would prevent most serious injuries, according to a copy of the complaint filed in 2006 in US District Court in Boston.

After five surgeries and years of rehabilitation, two of Osorio’s fingers are permanently disfigured and unusable, and he has suffered numbness and loss of feeling in three other fingers.

“Hopefully, this means the industry is finally going to recognize that catastrophic injuries could be averted and they need to make this technology standard so people don’t have these senseless injuries.” said Richard J. Sullivan, one of the lawyers representing Osorio.

One World Technologies said it had been advised of the verdict.

“We are evaluating the results with our lawyers, and evaluating how to proceed.” said Jason Swanson, a spokesman for One World Technologies.

“Notwithstanding the outcome of this trial and any possible appeal, we remain confident that the saw which was the subject of this lawsuit was well-designed and manufactured with all due consideration for the needs and safety of the consumer.”

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, which would stop a power saw blade almost instantly upon contact with human flesh.

During Osorio’s trial, an expert witness for the defense acknowledged that if the saw had the flesh detection technology, it would have created a 1/8-inch deep cut on one finger, Osorio’s lawyers said. Instead, Osorio suffered near-amputation of one finger and severe lacerations on four other fingers.

Now if you ask me, this is the very definition of a frivolous lawsuit. You guys know I am big on safety. I even created Woodworker’s Safety Week to raise awareness. But if you were a friend of mine and you cut your fingers on a standard tablesaw and tried to sue the company because they didin’t use “flesh-detecting technology”, I would probably smack you upside the head. And on the ironic side of things is the fact that they guy was using a relatively inexpensive Ryobi tablesaw that most likely cost $200-$250, right? Guess how much that saw would cost if it had “flesh-detecting technology”? Given the way SawStop works, and assuming that’s what we’re talking about here, could that Ryobi saw in its current form even handle the impact of a SawStop break in action? Regardless, if all saws were required to have this technology, I would imagine that the $250 tablesaw would be a thing of the past. And whoever bought this saw in the first place, would most likely be shopping on Craigslist to find an old saw in his price range, instead of one of these new-fangled ones with the safety device.

One other question I have that wasn’t answered by the article: was he even using the stock guard? While I admit those guards aren’t the most user-friendly, they DO stop you from putting your fingers into the blade.

Oh and by the way, this is probably a great time to mention a new product we will have in our store very soon. Its called the Wood Whisperer Fun Suit. Now you can throw yourself on top of a spinning blade without a care in the world! (Thanks for the photoshop work Bill!)

So let’s hear your thoughts on this. Its a hot one!

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