Our client, a worker in a chicken processing plant, suffered a crush injury to her right wrist while using a chicken sexing machine in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Our firm, on behalf of the injured worker, sued the machine’s manufacturer, alleging that the machine was defectively designed.
The chicken sexing machine was used to sort newly hatched chickens by gender. Male chicks went to one rung of a set of rotating plastic panels that formed a carousel conveyor, while female chicks went to another such rung. At a certain point in the carousel’s rotation, the plastic panels would drop to send the male chicks down another chute and then the plastic panel would raise again, like a trap door. At the end of her shift, our client was cleaning the machine while the carousel of plastic flaps was still rotating. As she reached to remove debris, the plastic panel dropped and caught her hand in a pinch point formed by the plastic panel when it closed.
We contended that the manufacturer knew that workers would have to meticulously clean the machine every day. To properly clean the machine, workers needed to be near this pinch point.
In his report, our expert in industrial engineering opined that the chicken sexing machine was defective and unsafe because it contained exposed pinch points that workers encountered during normal use of the machine. The pinch point should have been guarded against with a fixed guard that prevented a worker from reaching into the dangerous area. According to the expert, the hazard also should have been warned of by instructing workers to shut the machine down when they entered the center of the machine, from which the pinch point was accessible. While other pinch points on the machine were guarded against and warned of, the pinch point where our client was trapped had no guard and no warning, the expert concluded.
Our client’s co-worker drove her to an emergency room where she was diagnosed with a crush injury to her right wrist, of her dominant arm. She was discharged and then came under the care of a hand surgeon. Our client underwent a carpal tunnel release of her right wrist. Following the procedure, she underwent physical therapy
In his report, our expert in orthopedic surgery opined that our client reached maximum medical improvement, but she would continue to suffer from restrictions, including ongoing neuropathy and weakness. Our client alleged that she suffered with a lack of grip strength and dexterity, weakness and numbness in her right wrist.
Bradley Smith, a partner at Galfand Berger, negotiated a pretrial settlement of $165,000 for our client.