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$1,475,000 Recovery for Conveyor Belt Injury

Case Synopsis:

The plaintiff, a 36-year-old maintenance mechanic for Tasty Baking Company, was working in the Philadelphia factory when he noticed that one of the belts on a transfer conveyor that moved cupcakes from the oven onto wrapping and boxing equipment was out of alignment. Plaintiff reached beneath the machine to feel the tension on the belts and stuck his right hand into the conveyor belt’s drive shaft gearing, causing fracture injuries to his wrist. The guard that was supposed to prevent users from placing their hand into the drive shaft steering of the power transmission was found five feet from the location where Plaintiff was injured.

The plaintiff sued the conveyor company that designed and manufactured the conveyor belt for products liability, claiming both a design defect and failure to warn.

The plaintiff’s counsel argued that the conveyor company that manufactured, designed, and installed its transfer conveyor belt for the Tasty Baking Company factory failed to interlock a fixed guard for the machine’s power transmission gearing. Counsel for the defendant conveyor company maintained that the conveyor belt was equipped with a fixed guard on the power transmission gearing. Counsel asserted that if the guard was removed or altered it would have required a special tool for a user to get off. Defense counsel also argued that, as an experienced maintenance mechanic, Plaintiff was required to lock out and tag the machine before he serviced it; counsel noted that such a procedure would have averted Plaintiff’s injury and Plaintiff had violated Tasty Baking Company’s safety policy by servicing the conveyor while it was in operation.

The plaintiff’s injuries included fractures of several wrist bones, and lacerations and nerve damage to the median nerve. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated for fractures to several bones in his wrist, namely the capitate, hamate, and scaphoid bones. The plaintiff also lacerated his extensor tendons and the median nerve in his right (dominant) wrist. The plaintiff’s treatment, which spanned two days, included an ORIF procedure that fixated his fractured wrist bones surgery.

The plaintiff’s counsel presented $99,614 in past medical damages. The plaintiff’s counsel also sought to recover $200,000 in lost wages because the plaintiff was not able to work for four years after the accident

Outcome:

The parties agreed to a settlement whereby the conveyor company that installed the conveyor belt paid Byrne $1,475,000 to dismiss his claim against it. The case was handled by Philadelphia hand injury lawyer, Richard M. Jurewicz, Esquire of Galfand Berger. For more information on this case, please contact him at rjurewicz@galfandberger.com