Are you an amputee? Are you wondering whether or not you may have a legal case grounded in negligence? You’re not alone. The Amputee Coalition reports that approximately 185,000 amputations occur in the United States each year. The loss of a limb or digit is traumatic. Nothing can repair what is lost, however, legal settlements can help defray medical costs, and provide compensation for pain and suffering and loss of past and future income. In some cases, successful amputation lawsuits can also bring you and your family peace of mind and a sense of closure.
Several successful amputation settlements made the headlines this past year.
$2 Million Settlement Reached in Table Saw Amputation Case
Alex Mai, a Philadelphia man who amputated his finger with a table saw in 2012 recently settled a suit against the owner of the table saw, Eric Aponte, and One World Technologies, makers of the popular Ryobi table saw. He was awarded $2 million in damages.
According to an article published this May in the Legal Intelligencer, Mai, who was 19 at the time of the traumatic amputation, was assisting in a home renovation when his hand was pushed into the spinning blade during a “kickback accident.” The accident occurred when the piece of hardwood flooring that he was cutting came into contact with the back end of the sawblade and forced his hand into the blade. The legal memo cited in the article noted, “Mai's middle finger on his right, dominant hand was amputated during the incident, and other fingers sustained nerve damage and disfigurement. The injuries, according to the memo, caused pain and suffering and lost earning capacity.”
Mai filed a claim against both the makers of the saw and the saw’s owner, who had allegedly ordered him to make the cut. He settled with One World Technologies for $1.9 million and with Aponte for $100,000. According to Mai’s legal memo, the saw had originally been equipped with a safety guard to protect against kick-back injuries; however, the guard had been removed. Mai’s team argued that the guard was defective and customers “had frequently been choosing to remove the guard.” Mai went on to claim that the company should have used “flesh detection” technology, which had been available for well over a decade at the time of his accident.
The Legal Intelligencer article, quoting Mai’s memo noted, “Ryobi simply decided that safety of its users wasn't worth diminishing its profits on the 'best selling,' 'lowest costing' table saw. As a result, hundreds of BTS-10 users, including Alex Mai, suffered serious, permanent and disfiguring injuries.” His memo also raised claims “under the risk utility and consumer expectation theories of products liability, and raised negligence claims against the saw maker and Aponte. He also raised a failure to warn claim.”
Retiree Settles for $2.5 Million in Foot Amputation Case
In this instance, a 72-year-old New Jersey retiree was forced to have his left foot amputated after he was struck by a New Jersey transit bus in 2015. In an account of the accident published in the New Jersey Law Journal, Antonio Almeida’s left foot was crushed by a bus making a left turn while he was crossing the street in Newark. According to the case documents, Almeida thought that the bus saw him, but he soon realized the bus was moving too quickly. Unfortunately, he was unable to avoid being struck. The driver testified that he was checking his outside mirrors and didn’t see the victim until the accident had already occurred.
Almeida argued that the new prosthetic foot is heavy and cumbersome and as a consequence, his activity had been severely limited. The judge agreed, awarding Almeida $2.5 million in damages on July 6, 2016.
Unsafe Factory Conditions Lead to Arm Amputation
In November of 2011, a machine operator in Allentown, PA had his right hand and lower forearm severed while working at a candy and nut processing plant. While working on a line where liquid chocolate is poured over toffees and nuts, the conveyor belt began to slip. When this happens, the drive rollers continue to spin, but the belt remains stationary.
To get the belt and product moving as quickly as possible, workers were instructed by their supervisors to apply corn starch under the conveyer belt and onto the drive roller. This solution, however, required the operator to insert his or her hand into a hole under the conveyer belt.
In this instance, the plaintiff’s arm became stuck in an “operational nip point” which he alleged should have been guarded. His hand and lower forearm were severed and later his upper forearm was surgically amputated just below the elbow.
He sued the manufacturer of the nuts, alleging that the company was negligent and allowed dangerous working conditions to exist within the factory. The Legal Intelligencer reported that “Expert engineering witnesses testified that it was “dangerous and unreasonable to have the nip point unguarded (a nip point is where two rolling parts, or a rolling part and a stationary part, meet, and can cause injury.) He opined that a safeguard should have been in place to prevent exposure and access to the nip point.”
After an intense courtroom trial in which a number of expert witnesses took to the stand for both sides, they settled for $1 million on April 24, 2017 (the judge ordered the jury not to sign a verdict sheet, so no verdict was entered into the official record).
Veteran Awarded $37.1 Million For a Work-Related Amputation Accident
In March of this year, A 27-year-old Army Veteran, Logan Milstead, was awarded more than $37 million after losing his leg in a 2013 work-related accident at a chemical plant. The jury found that negligence on the part of his employer, Total Petrochemicals and Refining, was the primary factor in the tragic accident in which Milstead’s leg was crushed by a 3-ton counterweight that fell on him when part of the loading dock he was working on collapsed.
The Advocate reported that Milstead endured 13 surgeries as a direct result of his injuries. Ultimately, however, his leg could not be saved and was amputated. According to the article, “The lawsuit says the loading arm failed, causing a 6,000-pound counterweight to fall on Milstead, trapping him underneath it for 1½ hours. Tony Clayton, the lead attorney for Milstead, said there had been previous problems with the loading arm before his client's accident.”
Milstead received compensation for past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of wages, past and future pain and suffering, past and future mental anguish, past and future enjoyment of life, disability, and for scarring and disfigurement.
If you think you may have grounds for an amputation lawsuit, contact an amputation lawyer immediately. For a free initial case review and evaluation, contact The Law Offices of Foster & Houston or call us at (877) 377-5411.