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Back in 2010, a Massachusetts jury awarded a man $1.5 million in damages after he injured his hand on a Ryobi table saw that lacked flesh-sensing technology that would have prevented the injury. Such technology was introduced back in 2000, but most major table saw manufacturers have resisted implementing it on their machines.

Now, another similar lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The plaintiff is a resident of Arizona, and claims that while using a Ridgid table saw made by One World Technologies, he suffered serious injuries. He has named as defendants One World Technologies, as well as the Ridge Tool Company, Emerson Electric Company, Techtronic Industries, and Home Depot.

He claims the manufacturers were negligent in failing to implement flesh-sensing technology in their machines.

Plaintiff Injured While Performing a Rip Cut

According to his complaint, the plaintiff purchased a Ridgid ten-inch table saw from a Home Depot store in Arizona in 2009. He states that he is an experienced woodworker and that he carefully reviewed all instructions and warnings in the Ridgid table saw product manual before first using the new tool. He also maintains that as he continued to use the table saw for different cuts, he referred again and again to the product manual.

He used the product for about five years, but then on February 25, 2015, attempted to make a rip cut on a long and narrow piece of wood. A rip cut or “ripping” is one of the most common types of cuts performed on a table saw, and is used to divide or split a piece of wood along the grain. In other words, it is the cut one uses to cut a long board lengthwise.

Rip cuts can be dangerous, however. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) noted that it was the cut woodworkers were doing in most of the table saw accidents reported between 2007 and 2008.

The plaintiff was working with a piece of wood that was shaped like a right triangle and was about one inch wide and two-to-three inches tall. He fed it into the saw with the shorter leg closest to him. He started the cut as a “through” cut, meaning the blade would cut through it completely. As he pushed the piece toward the blade, however, and the height of the piece naturally increased as it approached the blade, the cut changed to a “non-through cut.”

Plaintiff Says Table Saw Was Defectively Designed

A “non-through” cut is one in which the blade doesn’t cut completely through the workpiece. The plaintiff says he followed all warnings and instructions for this type of cut, utilizing the “rip fence,” which is a metal piece that guides the wood during a rip cut while providing a barrier between the wood and the operator. He also used a push stick to push the wood through, which protects an operator’s hands.

He alleges that he was using the product’s provided alignment disc to properly align the cut, but that the disc was incorrectly designed, and actually caught the push stick he was using on its edges. The push stick stopped abruptly. The operator allegedly was concerned about a potential kickback situation, in which the wood can be thrown back at the operator, so he tried to move out of the way, but when he did so, his left hand came into contact with the table saw’s blade.

The plaintiff suffered a partial amputation of his left index finger, lacerations and fractures on his middle and ring fingers, and degenerative changes in one of his left thumb joints. He claims the saw was defectively designed because it didn’t include flesh-sensing technology created by SawStop, which would have stopped the blade when his hand came into contact with it.

He brings counts of defective design, inadequate warnings, and negligence, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

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