Trief & Olk obtained a settlement of $4 million for a plaintiff who had his left, non-dominant hand amputated in an industrial meat grinder. The plaintiff was working for an outside cleaning company and was tasked with cleaning an industrial meat grinder at a meat processing facility in Bronx, New York. While disassembling the machine, the machine’s foot pedal installed by the meat processing facility was unintentionally activated, turning the machine on and catching the plaintiff’s hand in the grinder. Trief & Olk argued that the meat processing plant was responsible for the injury because (i) it negligently altered the meat grinder in a manner that made it more dangerous, (ii) it failed to de-energize the meat grinder prior to the cleaning crew’s arrival, and (iii) it left the pedal on the floor in a location where it could be unintentionally activated. The defendant’s insurance company originally offered $500,000.
Trief & Olk was able to reach the settlement by building a case through aggressive discovery tactics and a team of experts.
The discovery started pre-suit, when Trief & Olk obtained a Court Order permitting an inspection of the machine. During that inspection, Trief & Olk discovered that the pedal on the machine lacked side protection to prevent unintentional activation of the machine. At the second inspection, the pedal had been changed to one with side protection. The meat processing facility attempted to argue that the new pedal was on the machine on the date of incident, but the photographs from the first inspection proved otherwise.
Trief & Olk was also able to obtain the deposition testimony of two employees of the meat processing facility. At those depositions, Trief & Olk exposed the fact that the machine had been altered by the meat processing facility to operate with a free-moving pedal rather than hand-operated buttons located a safe distance from the machine’s grinding mechanism. Trief & Olk also got the employees to confirm that the defendant had no de-energization policies and would routinely leave their machines plugged in with the pedals on the floor where they could be unintentionally activated by the incoming cleaning crew.
The meat processing facility attempted to pass the blame onto the plaintiff by arguing that the plaintiff was responsible for de-energizing the machine prior to cleaning. However, Trief & Olk identified OSHA regulations that placed that responsibility squarely on the meat processing facility, coupled with testimony from plaintiff’s supervisor placing the responsibility with the meat processing facility.
Trief & Olk supported plaintiff’s case with a team of experts to explain the defendant’s liability and plaintiff’s damages. The team included an engineer to discuss how and why the machine was defective, an orthopedist to discuss the plaintiff’s fractures and amputation, a prosthetics expert, a vocational rehabilitation expert to discuss plaintiff’s inability to work post-accident, and a life care plan expert to explain to the jury the cost of all of the care and replacement services needed by the plaintiff for the remainder of his life.
Trief & Olk represents individuals in a wide variety of personal injury actions, including machine and workplace accidents. If you have been injured in a machine accident, workplace accident, or by any other cause contact Trief & Olk by telephone or our website’s submission form to find out how Trief & Olk can help you.