In a settlement reached the week before trial, attorneys Alan M. Feldman and Daniel J. Mann obtained a $1.95 million recovery on behalf of the family of Rick Michael, a 51-year-old metal foundry worker. Mr. Michael was crushed to death while working on a large piece of industrial production equipment known as a “turntable,” which was used to make cast metal pieces. While attempting to dislodge a steel table that had become stuck underneath the turntable, the machine rotated, or “indexed,” crushing the plaintiff in a pinch point created between the table and steel support beams.
Immediately following the accident, plaintiff’s attorneys gained access to the job site in order to determine whether this accident was caused by a defect in the product. A design engineer and human factors expert retained by Feldman Shepherd believed that the turntable should have been equipped with a “safety skirt” barrier guard around the base of the machine, which would have prevented the steel table from being stored in an area underneath the product, and would have also prevented the plaintiff from putting himself in a position where he could be harmed. The design engineer and human factors expert also believed the product was defective due to a lack of emergency stop buttons and warning lights in the area where this accident occurred.
During discovery, Feldman and Mann obtained admissions from the engineers responsible for designing the turntable that they had never considered guarding the area in question. However, a page from defendant’s catalog offered the very type of guarding suggested by the plaintiff’s experts.
In order to explain (1) how the machine operated, (2) how the accident occurred, and (3) plaintiff’s suggested safety modifications, Feldman and Mann prepared video animations that would have been presented to the jury at trial. It is believed that the extensive preparation of the case for trial helped bring about a favorable settlement.
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