Unsafe Conveyor System – Lack of Guarding
William A. Atlee, Jr., Esquire and Jaime D. Jackson, Esquire recently settled a case on behalf of their client whose right arm was amputated by a belt conveyor.
As part of his job duties and as he was instructed to do, our client was washing the belt on the conveyor system when he noticed there was a large amount of debris stuck on the roller, which was causing the belt to start to become off track. He tried to remove the debris with the water hose, but was unsuccessful, so he obtained a putty knife and attempted to loosen the debris from the roller. As he did so, his shirt sleeve was captured by the turning roller and his hand and arm were pulled into the unguarded in running nip point. He attempted to shut off the conveyor by stepping on the cable of the emergency cable operated stop safety switch, but the stop switch did not stop the conveyor system. His right arm was amputated by the pulley on the conveyor.
The manufacturer of the conveyor had gone through bankruptcy and was immune from suit.
On behalf of our client, we sued the engineering firms who created the specifications for the conveyor, the manufacturer’s representative who facilitated the sale of the conveyor from the bankrupt company, the company who installed the conveyor and the company who manufactured the emergency stop safety switch.
Plaintiff contended that there was a open area at the in running nip point on the head pulley where our client’s arm was amputated that was not guarded. Strict products liability theories were pursued alleging that the lack of proper guarding was a defect and had adequate guarding been implemented, our client’s arm amputation would have been prevented.
Plaintiff also claimed that the emergency stop safety switch was defective it because it failed in fatigue over time and was not operational at the time of this accident failing to immediately shut down the conveyor.
Trial was scheduled to begin December 5, 2011, following a failed mediation, two failed settlement conferences; the parties were able to reach a settlement with Defendants just before trial.
With the designer and manufacturer of the conveyor judgment proof and discharged in bankruptcy, Atlee Hall, was able to secure a substantial settlement on its client’s behalf against various other entities involved in the sale and installation of these defective components.