A Massachusetts man has finally received a judgement against toolmaker Ryobi after a devastating accident involving one of the company's table saws.
Richard Sullivan, a Boston lawyer hired by insurance companies to handle workers' compensation cases, was the first to take on the manufacturers. He watched a CNN video of SawStop's demonstration, and in 2006 filed a complaint on behalf of Carlos Osorio, who mutilated his hand on a Ryobi saw while laying hardwood floors, requiring five surgeries and $384,000 in medical bills.
Last week, Osorio's legal team, which includes national firm Boies, Schiller and Flexner, pointed to SawStop's sales as evidence that the technology is not only mechanically feasible but financially viable. They asked for $250,000 in damages, but the jury awarded Osorio, now 30, $1.5 million.
The case revolves around the apparent negligence demonstrated by toolmakers choosing not to adopt the SawStop flesh-detection technology.
Carpinello likens flesh-detection technology to airbags, which fueled a similar slew of litigation when they were first installed in cars. Automakers without airbags got sued for not adopting the better safety design. Now, all cars have airbags.
The real winner in this case appears, however, to be SawStop. SawStop approached all of the major tablesaw manufacturers with their technology asking for a licensing fee... a fairly typical practice. When met with no-doubt surprising animosity toward the technology by manufacturers, SawStop opted to build their own saws.
I submit to you, though, that if you want a safe car you should buy one with airbags and take defensive driving lessons. I can't fault the car-maker unless some defect in their design or manufacturing was to blame for an accident. Likewise, if you want to make sure your fingers are safe, buy a SawStop.
I struggle to see how toolmakers who have essentially used an unmodified design of tablesaw for decades can be blamed for this.
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