Our firm recently settled a workplace death case against United States Resources, Inc., and Coe Manufacturing Company. Our clients’ husband and father were killed when a piece of lumber was kick-backed and ejected out of the in-feed section of an industrial planer, a large wood processing machine made by the Defendants. The piece of lumber was ejected at such a high rate of speed that it traveled nearly forty feet before striking and killing our clients’ loved one who was doing nothing wrong. In fact, he was minutes away from the end of his shift on that fateful day.
The testimony we obtained and presented in this case was highly significant and most remarkable. For starters, the Defendants admitted that they knew the planer during operation would kick-back and eject pieces of lumber at high rates of speed toward workers which could obviously cause serious injury or death. The Defendants also acknowledged that they were aware of guarding and/or guards that would prevent such deadly occurrences. Nonetheless, the Defendants deliberately chose not to equip their machine with these safety guards. Finally, the Defendants never warned the decedent’s employer of this deadly hazard, never placed any warnings on the machine, nor did they distribute any other literature concerning the hazard. The Defendant’s lawyers argued that the employer should have placed guards on their machine. Even the Defendants’ own witnesses testified that it is never appropriate to shift safety to the customer.
This is the second case our firm has handled recently where an industrial planer kick-backed a piece of lumber resulting in a worker being seriously injured or killed. Once again this case demonstrates the dangers to which hard-working men and women are exposed in the lumber industry. Unfortunately, the manufacturers of large industrial machines such as planers continue to ignore basic engineering safety principles which, if followed, would save lives and eliminate serious injuries.
The case had been filed in Jackson County, Fla., and was awaiting a trial date. The case settled for a confidential amount. Rick Morrison and Cole Portis, lawyers in our firm, handled the case for our clients and they did a very good job.
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